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Where did chick rock go? Although rock women briefly reigned not too long ago, they’ve been shuffled away by boy bands and Britney Spears. Post-Lilith, it seems, women and mainstream rock are renegotiating.
Last Thursday night, the elite forces backing girls with guitars gathered around the fire in Washington—and the focaccia. Local filmmakers and producers Wendy Tumminello and Lynda Allen are looking to raise roughly $20,000 to edit and promote the documentary For the Love of Rock, which they’ve been working on for the last two years. In a genteel Massachusetts Avenue NW back yard, a small, passionate group came together last week to drum up cash to keep the flame of chick rock alive. Friends of the filmmakers, members of the Legacy Foundation (which has backed Rock with a grant of $2,000), some “very supportive” people from the Recording Industry Association of America, sleek power lesbians, and aspiring documentary makers screened an eight-minute trailer and shared laughs. Checks were quietly handed off.
Tumminello began For the Love of Rock, she says, by looking for a subject in women’s experiences that might be “universal, that people can enjoy.” She picked music because “so many little girls look up to musicians.” Tumminello contacted Nancy Tarr of Dead Girls and Other Stories, a D.C. folk-rock band, in hopes of doing a film about local female musicians. Soon, she found herself with access to national acts like the Indigo Girls.
The trailer features the likes of articulate, funny, and super-sensual Jane Siberry, no-bullshit Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls, and D.C. poet and rapper Toni Blackman commenting on the subjects of creative control, image, balance, sexism, getting on the radio, and role models. The film eventually will include clips of Kate Shellenbach (formerly of Luscious Jackson), Long Island indie rockers Moxie, and others. Tumminello and Allen are clearly making an effort to take it beyond the expected folk-inspired fare. Still, the artists in Rock aren’t very musically edgy. While Tumminello’s still dizzy from nearly landing Tina Turner for the film, I can’t help wondering where the Liz Phairs and P.J. Harveys are.
Tumminello and Allen’s company, LBI Productions, are taking Rock on the festival circuit in New York, Sundance, and Toronto—the deadlines are late summer—in hopes that VH-1 or HBO will bite. “They do a lot of original documentary programming,” notes Allen. Although the goal is “theatrical distribution,” For the Love of Rock has “VH-1 bound” written all over it. The buzz at the party is that the film will screen at the Lincoln Theatre as part of the Reel Affirmations festival. You might check your local listings thereafter.—John Dugan