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“The Watchers” is a film adaptation of the 2022 book of the same name by A.M. Shine.
Review: “The Watchers”
Published June 13, 2024

No Boys Allowed

Documentary explores feminism in punk


What: Screening of âÄúFrom the Back of the RoomâÄù

Where: Bryant-Lake Bowl, 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis

When: 8 p.m., Jan. 30-31

Cost: $5-10

âÄúFrom the Back of the RoomâÄù begins with a disclaimer that ends by saying, âÄúLetâÄôs make more room for each other. If we donâÄôt do it, who will?âÄù It is a fitting sentiment for a documentary that chronicles over two decades of female presence in punk music.

The film premiered in July 2011 and has had screenings in 20 states, as well as Canada and London. For the first time since August, the film will return to Minneapolis on Monday at Bryant-Lake Bowl.

In the course of filming, director and co-producer Amy Oden conducted roughly 50 interviews with female musicians, roadies, venue owners and photographers involved in the punk and D.I.Y. movement. This includes members of bands like Bikini Kill, Bratmobile and Kylesa. Also included are members of lesser known, but awesomely named bands like Whorehouse of Representatives and Optimus Crime.

âÄúI made a deliberate decision not to interview any men because I wanted to have space for womenâÄôs voices,âÄù Oden said. âÄúMenâÄôs opinions are heard all the time.âÄù

Interspersed with interviews is an extensive archive of live hardcore and punk performances that span 25 years.

Even with the overarching message of inclusion and empowerment, the filmâÄôs female perspective is very positive. But at times, itâÄôs also critical of punk on several levels âÄî most commonly for sexism within the movement.

âÄúAs much as people like to imagine punk as a haven outside of dominant society, you canâÄôt remove yourself from having been raised within a larger culture,âÄù Oden said. âÄúThereâÄôs going to be variation. Some people are cool and politically savvy, some just donâÄôt care and some can have pretty oppressive views.âÄù

Oden got her degree in broadcast journalism and has worked in television. For her, the film is a combination of two passions.

âÄúIt made sense to do a longer film about women in punk. It was sort of an illustration of myself.âÄù

Filming brought Oden all over the country, with tours of the midwest as well as both coasts. The process and the film itself became very personal experiences.

âÄúThe main thing I took away from it that I wasnâÄôt really expecting was feeling really close to my own history. This is a film IâÄôm very connected with,âÄù Oden said.

While the obvious audience for the film is fans of punk music and people already involved in the community, Oden feels anyone can appreciate and take something away from the film.

âÄúOne of the things I want people to take away is just the volume of experiences that these women have amassed,âÄù Oden said. âÄúEven more than that though, I think I was envisioning younger girls watching it and thinking, âÄòI can do that. I should play in a band.âÄù

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