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Girls Rock!

5 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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(Jan 27, 2009)
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$179.99 $4.77
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Editorial Reviews


The act of picking up a guitar and making some noise becomes a life-changing experience in Girls Rock!, an irresistible new documentary from filmmakers Arne Johnson and Shane King that showcases the transformative power of rock 'n' roll. The film's subject is the Rock 'n' Roll School for Girls; every girl between the ages of 8 and 18 should be required to check it out. --Chicago Sun-Times

Young women find expression for more than their music in Girls Rock!, a jubilant documentary about a place where power chords and empowerment go hand in hand. At the Rock n Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, Ore., 100 delirious 8-to-18-year-olds many of whom have never touched an instrument are encouraged to make noise and take up space. For one earsplitting, consciousness-raising week, they form bands and write songs while watchful counselors volunteer musicians from bands like Sleater-Kinney and Gossip provide expertise, mediate meltdowns and reassure the strugglers. Everyone needs to feel that someone gets them, says Laura, who loves death-metal and worries about finding like-minded band mates. The 8ight-year-old Palace, a diminutive diva with a high-decibel vocal style, pens lyrics that hint at deeper anxieties. Interweaving candid interviews and despairing statistics girls are the only group to begin school with a testing advantage and leave with a disadvantage the directors, Shane King and Arne Johnson, inform but never lecture. --New York Times

A documentary about a rock 'n' roll camp for girls ages 8-18 could have been cutesy or condescending. Instead, it's the best film of the new year, a funny, wise and inspiring ode to spirits set free. And it rocks. Among the 80 campers who form bands, write songs and perform them for an audience, all in a five-day period, are some vivid young people including: Palace, a precocious 8-year-old who emerges from her shell to shriek a lyric about burning down San Francisco so her mother can't go there on business trips; The equally young Amelia, who invents her own guitar chords for space jams about her pet Chihuahua; Laura, 15, who feels like an outcast because she loves death metal and because she's a Korean who was adopted by a white couple from Oklahoma; And Misty, 16, whose drug-addicted parents surrendered her to a series of foster homes, where she reigned as a bully before channeling her anger into soccer and hip-hop. The annual camp near Portland, Ore., is run by veterans of the indie-rock revolution, including a member of the riot-grrrl band Sleater-Kinney. But these cool, confident young women teach their pupils more than just chords and counting the beat. For the girls, the touchingly awkward process of sniffing out kindred spirits and starting a band becomes an ice breaker and opens the door to teacher-led workshops on self-defense, assertiveness, body image and conflict resolution. Because so many feelings bubble up in the creative ferment, "Girls Rock!" is an unusually insightful documentary about growing up. The battle-tested teachers are astute about the pressures on girls from their peers, their parents, sexually aggressive males and the media, while directors Arne Johnson and Shane King provide context with ironic old film clips and cuttingly presented statistics. All this drama has a cathartic payoff, as 700 visitors pack an auditorium to hear the kids perform their songs, which range from folk to funk to punk. The beauty of the Rock 'N' Roll Camp for Girls is that individual identities are enabled to take wing, whether they are butterflies or banshees. --St Louis Post-Dispatch

Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Carrie Brownstein, Beth Ditto
  • Directors: Shane King, Arne Johnson
  • Format: Color, Dolby, NTSC, Surround Sound, Widescreen
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
  • Studio: Girls Rock Productions
  • DVD Release Date: January 27, 2009
  • Run Time: 89 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001CCIS36
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,631 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Girls Rock!" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Ok, full disclosure here, I'm one of the directors of the film. So, this isn't really a review, but it seemed there wasn't a lot of information about the movie above, so I thought I'd include some here (from the Hot Docs Film Festival Catalog):

At Rock 'n' Roll Camp, girls ranging in age from eight to 18 are taught that it's OK to sweat like a pig, scream like a banshee, wail on their instruments with complete and utter abandon, and that "it is 100% okay to be exactly who you are." The girls have a week to select a band, an instrument they may have never played before, and write a song. In between, they are taught by indie rock chicks such as Carrie Brownstein from Sleater-Kinney various lessons of empowerment from self-defense to anger management. At the end of the week, all the bands perform a concert for over 700 people. The film follows several campers: Laura, a Korean adoptee obsessed by death metal; Misty, who is emerging from a life of meth addiction, homelessness and gang activity; and Amelia, an eight-year-old who writes experimental rock songs about her dog Pipi. What happens to the girls as they are given a temporary reprieve from being sexualized, analyzed and pressured to conform is truly moving and revolutionary.
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Format: DVD
Self-esteem doesn't come easy to many adolescent girls in a society bombarded with mixed messages, sexual imagery, eating disorders and narrow standards of beauty, and a bias against female assertiveness. Girls Rock! is a moving documentary about the efforts of a group of women rockers fighting the self-esteem gap through the Rock & Roll Camp for Girls in Portland, OR. Established by some of the women instrumental to the riot grrrl movement--a feminist branch of punk--of the 1990s, such as Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney, the camp teaches girls aged 8-18 music and self-defense. In just one week, the girls form bands, learn an instrument (often picking it up for the first time), and write a song. At the end, each band performs before an audience of hundreds, providing an unforgettable experience. Backed with statistics illustrating the trials girls face as they grow up--including sexual assault, anorexia, and biases in education--the film follows four girls as they struggle to find their voices and learn to rock.

Laura, 15, is an adopted Korean with an outgoing personality, articulate views, and an obsession with death metal. Although she seems self-assured, making friends easily, she later reveals that she struggles with her self-image. Misty, a 17-year-old attending the camp through a program with the group home where she lives, copes with a broken family life and a troubled past of gang activity and drugs. Never having seen a bass guitar in her life, she picks up the instrument and becomes a valuable part of her hip hop band. The 8-year-old Amelia writes experimental songs about her dog Pipi. She's a girl on her own wavelength and has to work toward blending her original creative visions with her bandmates. Palace, who's 7, loves to perform but has trouble getting along with others.
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All young women should watch this film. All middle aged and older women should watch this film.

The filmmakers do a great job of interviewing the attendees and teachers of this camp; interspersed are amazing statistics about how girls and women perceive themselves. This film is really well organized and super entertaining.

Watch the special features for extra interviews and performances.
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This is a great film that documents girls going to a "rock camp" to learn to play music. I found it really inspiring to see that so many people care of kids coming up. The kids themselves were also very interesting and it was great to see them find music as a way to voice their opinions. I think this is a great argument for why music education is so important and hope more people will see this film.
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No seriously, it really is. Best movie ever. You totally 100% like right now have to check it out. Go!!!
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