CMW 2014: Saturday Pt. 2

We Are the Best! Promotional Photo

By Aviva L.

This is my fourth year taking part in Canadian Music Week’s festivities, but I had never before checked out their film fest. Between night and day shows, conference events, and comedy showcases, the film fest often gets overlooked, or ignored in favour of sleeping in. However, when Saturday brought another warm and beautiful day, I decided it was high time to expand my CMW horizons and check out a film.

I took a look at the schedule and was impressed by the wide assortment of films. There were biopics, foreign films, and documentaries to choose from, each with a musical theme.

I settled on a Swedish film entitled We Are the Best! and headed down to the Royal Cinema, a relatively small and cozy theatre in Little Italy. The film’s plot, based on three young girls who start a punk band, intrigued me, and I was sold when I heard the screening would be followed by sets by a couple of bands.

I arrive at the theatre a couple of minutes late, and take a seat behind the small crowd in the centre of the theatre. The film starts out depicting the lives of two punk music-loving girls in Stockholm, Bobo and Klara, and focuses on their individual frustrations with their families and their selves, as well as their alienation at school. One day, exasperated by the seemingly ridiculous rules of dodgeball in gym class, Bobo and Klara start to write a song about their obnoxious gym teacher. Entitled “Hate the Sport,” the girls later chant the lyrics while attempting to play the drums and bass guitar at their local community centre. After acknowledging their lack of skill on the instruments, they enlist the help of meek loner girl Hedvig, a devout Christian and classical guitar virtuoso. Together, the three girls develop their sound and forge a close friendship, helping each other to navigate their first experiences with boys, drinking and familial rebellion.

I loved this movie. The foreign language didn’t take away one bit from the realistic and heartwarming portrayal of young adolescent struggles, insecurity and desires. There were also many funny moments stemming from hilarious situations the girls got themselves into, like when they went to the suburbs to meet some young punk boys and awkwardly tried to flirt with them. Or, when their band played a Christmas show at another town’s youth centre, and after being booed, they changed their song’s lyrics to insult the town.

While the film screening had a small audience, it was clear that everyone viewing the movie was just as engaged as I was. After every clever one-liner, loud laughs echoed through the room, and everyone enthusiastically clapped once the credits rolled. I would strongly recommend checking out a screening of the film — anyone with a love of music and memories of ploughing through the uncertainties of adolescence is sure to identify with the characters and enjoy the movie.

After the end of the movie and a twenty-minute intermission, a representative from Girls Rock Camp Toronto came up on stage to talk a little bit about the organization and introduce the bands that would be playing. Little did I know that the bands, The Overtones and Unicorn Patrol, were made of preteen girls. As the announcer explained, Girls Rock Camp is a camp in Toronto for young girls to form bands, learn instruments, and write songs. The summer camp is mostly volunteer-run and routinely holds fundraisers to rally funds and support for the organization.

When the curtains opened to reveal the first band, I was beyond impressed at the poise and confidence of the girls on stage. They went through a setlist of mostly cover songs, often switching instruments with each other and taking turns introducing the song titles. The next band played all original songs, and was equally talented and adorable. They cutely apologized for the various “technical issues” that arose during the set, and explained the meanings behind their songs, mainly sentiments about being yourself and standing up against bullying. It was so wonderful to see girls building meaningful skills and self-assurance at such a young age, and the overwhelming support the audience gave them was amazing. I instantly had flashbacks to myself at age nine, when I asked for an electric guitar for my birthday and constantly wrote song lyrics in my journal. I wish that there was an empowering organization like Girls Rock Camp around for me back then!

After a long round of applause for the bands, I left the theatre, feeling happy and inspired and so glad that I finally got myself to CMW’s film fest.

You can check out the movie We Are the Best! here: https://www.facebook.com/WeAreTheBestUK, and Girls Rock Camp Toronto here:  http://www.girlsrocktoronto.org.

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