Girls Rock!

Girls Rock!

Girls Rock! (Directors: Arne Johnson, Shane King, USA, 2006): I’m a sucker for documentaries with kids in them. At every festival, often full of dark films about human greed and violence, I always try to pick a film with kids in it. There’s just something wonderful about seeing their eyes when they learn something new, or hearing them talk about the things that matter to them. Girls Rock! combines that sense of wonder with the kick-ass attitude of DIY rock by taking us inside the Rock N’ Roll Camp for Girls, an annual week-long crash course for young women from 8-18.

This real-life School of Rock takes place in Portland, Oregon and girls and young women come from all over the country to be part of it. We get to witness their initial anxiety about being grouped with others to form bands, choosing an instrument, and even choosing names for their bands. It’s clear that the camp organizers want to use the power of rock music to give these girls a voice. In a society that limits women’s choices so early and in so many ways, this camp is a shot in the arm; literally an innoculation against all the negative messages that are thrown at young women today.

But that sounds preachy. And even when the film is throwing statistics at us, it does it in a playful way, using cute animations and jazzy fonts. And a film about rock music should be fun, and the film definitely is that, even when band squabbles and unresolved behavioural problems threaten to destroy the vibe.

The girls we meet are all adorable and gifted in unique ways, even though a few of the younger ones fall into that “precocious” category that can be entertaining in small doses, but can drive you crazy if you see them getting their way too often. In this area, it needs to be said that there are some problems that can’t be solved by music alone, especially in a week.

The camp experience culminates in a huge concert in front of 750 people, and it was great to see all of these thrown-together bands playing songs they’d written themselves. It was hard to believe the camp was only a week long.

It was also hard to believe that this was the feature debut of the two directors, who’ve produced a polished piece of work that manages to deliver a positive message in such a fun way.

Here is the Q&A with directors Arne Johnson and Shane King from after the screening:

Duration: 19:32

Official site for the film


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2 Responses to Girls Rock!

  1. Jackson Molden says:

    Just a question: Who founded this rock camp? Why is there no mention of the origins of this revolotion? It’s so odd. Nothing’s adding up here. Lots of typical “patting-on-the-backs” of the docs but no credit to where or how this started. The girls didn’t organically start this. Your favorite musician Carrie Brownstein didn’t start this. Who also started the womens rock camp? Who’s the visionary here? Will this all come out at the U.S. debut? Is that part of the surprise appearance? I hope so; if so I will try to attend or have my students attend. This is the oddest presentation I’ve ever heard of; to not have a documentary tell the whole story. What’s the point?

    How strange to listen to this and have no one question anything. I suppose everyone’s caught up in the drama. The stock answer is “the camp” to everything, as if it was created for you and these girls in a vacuum. This is a mainstream media mentality when you’re speaking of “indie rock”. Weird.

    But why should people be surprised when it comes to exploiting girls and women, I suppose. My students are outraged in their classes and tracking the backlash of this and other such examples of co-optation.

    We’ll be interested to see how you play it.

    very curious…

  2. serena says:

    Amazing movie! I loved it so much!!!

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