Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival
The history of music is filled with some truly great female bands. The Go-Go’s, The Runaways and The Bangles just to name a few that hit big mainstream success. One band however is considered to be the first all-female rock band to be signed to a major label, a band that would influence all the others that followed, were championed by such icons as David Bowie and would open for bands like Slade and Jethro Tull… that band was named Fanny and they were at the forefront of women’s right to be rock stars (which is great because that gives their documentary a fantastic subtitle to put after the semicolon).
Fanny: The Right To Rock tells the story of the 50-year career of the legendary band Fanny. Starting from their humble beginnings in 1969, the film follows their career trajectory as they scored a couple of top 40 hits, became the talk of the rock and roll scene, fought against sexism just by virtue of their existence and created a legacy that would be the foundation for many other rock acts to come. It then catches up with them in the present day as they prepare for a big reunion tour and new album release, while also dealing with the issue of ageism in the industry.
With interviews from current and former members of Fanny, the documentary is truly great at not just laying out how great this band truly is but also lays out explicitly how the world of rock reacted to their very presence. It’s somehow still jarring to see news articles from the 70s calling out the idea that women don’t belong in rock and roll… and considering we live in an age where assholes make money screaming into a camera every time a woman breathes near a video game console, it shouldn’t be that shocking anymore and yet the rampant misogyny that this band had to confront is still quite… well, confronting.
What’s great about the film is it’s not only a celebration of a great trailblazing band but a reintroduction, bolstered by new songs that act as the opening and closing of the film. Within minutes you’re given an undeniable glimpse of the raw talent from this band, done in a way that invites new fans to get ready to add this band to their playlists while reminding old fans why they liked Fanny.
You can tell this was made by someone who just wants to share their love of this cool band that they found. There’s a joyous excitement that goes throughout the film that just makes for an undeniably captivating experience. You not only get a ton of information about this band you may not have heard of before, but there’s such joy here that you want to soak up every little bit of information that you can get. It’s the kind of documentary that should just come with a copy of their album attached to it to save the audience the time of going to find it, cos chances are good that by the end of the film you’re going to want their CD for your collection.
Fanny: The Right to Rock is a glorious love letter to a band that should’ve had a lot more fame and hits than they were handed. It’s a powerful spotlight that’s shone directly on a band that could’ve been swept under the rug by the passing of time. Hopefully this will lead to a huge resurgence of Fanny love so they can be fondly remembered for being the trailblazing badass women that they are.
…also I deserve endless praise for not making a thousand jokes when gifted the word “Fanny” as the keyword of this review. Seriously, oh my god, that is a great band name but the urge to make jokes is so hard to resist!