The movie premiere of Her Sound, Her Story was held at the ACMI theatre during the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival in Melbourne. A lot of the women who feature in the movie were there, including the Director herself, Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore, who introduced it to the audience. On a cold Melbourne night, I sank into my warm chair at ACMI, glass of red in hand, in a room filled to capacity with women, and I felt so relaxed as I began watching the most inspiring documentary I will watch this year.
This all Australian film sets out to shine a light on the darker side of the music industry for women. Claudia Sangiorgi Dalimore and photographer Michelle Grace Hunder tell an inspiring story of courage, power, and strength in adversity. With an all female cast, the story is old only by first hand experiences. The documentary starts out with a focus on sexism and prejudice, and it brings the conversation to the forefront asking “when will things change?”
A number of artists share their experiences and stories on topics of The Pay Gap, longevity of success, media portrayal, sexualisation, racism in the industry, the LGBTQIA+ community and audience, representation and so much more, this film opens the industry up like never before.
From recounts of sexual assault pre performance, horribly discouraging comments from security guards, and requests to alter body weight and lifestyle – the list of harrowing experiences goes on. These women have seen it all. In an industry as cut throat and competitive as a cage fight, these women attest to sticking together, and demand to have their voices heard, and their stories told.
Tina Arena recounts feeling like hitting her fourties could be the end of her career, but her powerful acceptance speech when she was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame in 2015, was a protest to being put out of work or being pushed aside, making way for more conversation on the topic of feminism in the music industry. Her words in this film are powerful and impassioned. Her experience with raising her son, and being a woman over 40, while also keeping a steady foot in the entertainment industry is eye opening, revealing, and most importantly encouraging. You can’t help but make noise for this woman – she is a force to be reckoned with.
There are several true horror stories throughout this documentary, from an artist being undermined and sabotaged by a sound tech, to Dallas Frasca revealing how she was groped harshly in a backstage band area right before she was to go on stage and perform. These stories linger with you long after the credits roll, and I couldn’t help but think, ‘how did these women go on?’ It takes so much courage to be vulnerable in front of an audience, but to also have these barriers placed in front of you pre performance is enough to discourage any performer.
We hear from countless performers and technicians, (such as Kasey Chambers, Banoffee, Kate Ceberano, Nai Palm, Meg Mac, and so many more) and a common theme is heard: Attitudes toward women and LGBTQIA+ persons in this industry are harsh, unfair and not the same as their hetero male counterparts.
The other common theme is: We won’t stand for this any longer. With movements like the ‘Me Too’ Campaign, now is more a prevalent time than ever to expose the industry and offer complete transparency and non biased treatment for all, regardless of age, gender, sexual preference, relationship status, children etc.
While the documentary starts as a roaring freight train with a strong clear message, it also softens towards the end, delivering an equally clear message: people of the world, change is coming. But real change happens with participation from all parties. Men, stand up for and stand up with your women. Women, encourage and support your fellow women. People, be aware of the what you are supporting.
An interesting fact mentioned at the beginning of the documentary is that most Australian music festivals favour men A LOT, and that even though there are a huge amount of extremely talented Australian female performers, they are always missing from the lineups of major festivals. This is a fault at the festival organisers hands, but it won’t change until their is public outcry over the topic.
This film was all ecompassing, and brought a lot of topics into the spotlight which have long been undiscussed. It was refreshing and uplifting to see all of these women, so strong and brave for coming forward and sharing their experiences with the world, and with me and hundreds of other women in the theatre. The only downside of the film is that it wasn’t long enough.
As the lights came on and I looked around the theatre at the audience, I felt a particular energy engulf the room. It felt powerful, and inspiring. I felt proud of the beautiful community that I was currently sitting with. A community of women, with a message, and a loud and clear voice that refuses to be silenced. Her Sound, Her Story. Support your fellow women and see this at a cinema near you now.
Originally Published June 2018