Rolling release beginning Sept 30, 2022 (please check local listings for theatrical screenings)
Emerging out of the Middle East is Slave to Sirens, a thrash metal band wanting to prove to the world they’re unstoppable. In addition to allowing their journey to be filmed, what we see is a story different from mythology. Here, nobody is being lured to false promises and find themselves drowning in the river of life.
Instead, what Sirens, the documentary by filmmaker Rita Baghdadi, presents is the daily struggles of the five women in Beirut, Lebanon. They all want to be musicians. This microcosm that exists here does not understand what heavy metal is about. As this country’s first all-girl band struggling against its natural conservative norms, I was not only curious in what this work will explore but also wanted to hear this band sing. Also, it’s rare to get a look at what the rock n’ roll scene is like in the the Middle East.
These women’s options in how to succeed in this industry is even more tough, and not diverse as those who’ve immigrated to America to fulfill a dream. I’ve been watching a lot of VH1’s Behind the Music specials lately, and what happens in Sirens is no different. This group–created by Shery Bechara and Lilas Mayassi–has growing pains. Although Baghdadi’s focus on these two leaves out the others, I’m hoping what’s left out can be added in later. It might become supplemental material for the eventual home video release.
That is, we don’t learn too much about what Maya Khairallah (vocalist), Alma Doumani (bassist) and Tatyana Boughaba (drummer) want.
Since the making of Sirens, the line-up may well change. But what makes me smile is in the fact the people involved are truly dedicated. Lilas is really the focus here, and I can understand why she was singled out. But can she manage a group with egos? What we see and what I believe is that they can be as big as The Runaways.
Back when they started in 2015, what they offered to the local heavy metal community wasn’t necessarily groundbreaking. It took time for them to become accepted and as for how they’ll adapt to west(ern) audiences depends while they strive for global recognition. What’s revealed here is nail-biting, but I believe they can do it. After Sirens have gained notoriety in their home country by being on television, performing with a symphony orchestra, perhaps they’ll try again to spread their wings. Their fame doesn’t have to be restricted to one country, when all the world’s a stage for them to rock out on.
4 out of 5
Playing September 30th in NYC at the Angelika Film Center and Oct 7 at the Laemmle Royal in LA.