New documentary by Rita Baghdadi Sirens It may nominally be about an all-female Middle Eastern thrash metal band, but its heart can be found in the relationship between two key audiences: guitarists Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara. The two met during a riot, Mayassi recalls in the film, and the electric current between them felt instantaneous. They immediately bond with each other through music.
Sirens, premieres this week at the virtual Sundance Film Festival, featuring a dancing band. After Mayassi and Bechara founded Slaves to Sirens, they initially kept their relationship a secret from their bandmates. The devastation of their now-defunct romance was already beginning to erode the group’s cohesion by the time we met them—a big deal considering, as a saved man. As noted later in the document, an all-female metal band in Lebanon didn’t have many optional replacements when someone exited.
The tug of war between dream and reality, spirit and society, permeates layers of Baghdadi’s dramatic films. Personal narrative and genres like road and war documentaries intertwine as Mayassi, Bechara, and their bandmates struggle to find their definition of success in an underserved society. built to appreciate their work. But make no mistake: This is not another stereotypical work that sees Arab women as meek victims of oppression. It was a rallying cry (well, screaming) for self-determination and rebellion.
“This is not another stereotypical work that sees Arab women as meek victims of oppression. It was a rallying call (ah, shouting) for self-determination and rebellion.”
Another paradox underlies Sirens: the experience of oppression at the hands of a falling regime. At various points, we observe conversations (usually in the news) about the criminalization of homosexuality. A programmer called Slaves to Sirens to apologize for canceling their concert because they weren’t allowed to schedule metal bands. Mayassi’s mother looks at her child with a mixture of fear and anxiety – fear born of intergenerational trauma provides much of the film’s emotional context. She needs to know where her 25-year-old daughter is going at all times and whether she will arrive safely.
Baghdadi puts some of the film’s most dramatic images into the music of the Sirens — from the street protests to the terrifying 2020 explosion in Beirut. The band was regularly active during power outages and at one point the bank could only allow Mayassi’s mother to withdraw $100. Mayassi says her country has been “miserable” since the generation of her grandparents. But she insists, “I don’t want to live in fear.” The band is “the only outlet for us to be who we want to be without any limits,” she said. But that didn’t stop trolls from labeling the musicians as “sluts” and “sluts,” and the band itself as “an abomination.”
Viewers may find themselves wishing Sirens includes more contextual information about some of the moments that we see. The band’s performance at Britain’s Glastonbury Festival, originally framed as a source of inspiration, came and went; Mayassi seemed disappointed with the way the show turned out, perhaps because so few people attended. But without many details on what she and her bandmates expect from the performance, the moody guitarist’s feelings of frustration will become clouded. We can briefly observe Mayassi teaching children music in her day-to-day work, but the importance (or perhaps insignificant) of that work to the artist herself is never known. really know now.
At certain points, however, the band’s story gives way to the broader human story below — especially when the focus shifts to Bechara.
Mayassi describes Bechara as her more “musical” counterpart, a distinction Baghdadi sometimes emphasizes by capturing her more dreamy subject in beams of sunlight. At one point, Bechara gave Mayassi an incense stick for her birthday, along with a handwritten letter that read: “A special flower grows beside me in the ground, I call her Lils . We grew up side by side, deeply rooted, and that makes me happier. May you find serenity with every light, smoke and scent.”
None of the Sirens seem to be of much use for religion – unless it is chanting “Hail, Satan!” through laughter – but Bechara has a spiritual dimension that adds to Mayassi’s volatile mood. (Even if she, like her bandmates, often feels misunderstood and doesn’t know what she wants — for the band or for herself.)
Baghdadi is telling two stories here: one politically specific and one universal. The revolutionary landscape in Lebanon clearly informs the work of these musicians and the relationship they have formed with it. But their anger is also emblematic of the emotional symphony many of us feel in our mid-twenties, when we begin to figure out who we are and what we can do. in a world that limits our capacity for self-actualization and expression.
When Bechara decided to leave the band, her reasons were more personal than practical – the result of the rift that all friends and certainly exes went through. In the end, however, a reunion feels inevitable because, if nothing else, the rare sense of empowerment these musicians have found in each other.
Mayassi’s journey toward self-acceptance as a singular woman provides the film’s emotional spine. It seems she and Bechara have kept their affair a secret in part because she doesn’t feel comfortable discussing it. Mayassi describes her relationship with a Syrian woman with the same pessimism: “It’s all fantasy,” she said. “She won’t be able to get out of Syria anyway.” In the end, however, she and Bechara are able to reconnect honestly — a conversation about dating, in which Mayassi, after drawing a few lessons from her rift with her best friend her most, seems to have gained a greater sense of optimism and self-love. .
Towards the end of the document, Mayassi muses that we are all enslaved in some way — money, war, society. “It doesn’t feel safe at home,” Mayassi said after the Beirut blasts. “Friendship doesn’t feel safe; love has no sense of security”. But Slaves to Sirens is like an answer to that upheaval and submission, an encapsulation in the screams of these young girls’ dreams and defiance. And Sirens, For all its concert footage, it feels more like a love story than anything else. Not the fictional, “conquer all” kind of love, but the kind of love that grows over time for ourselves — and for those capable of seeing and appreciating us. about who we really are.
https://www.thedailybeast.com/sundance-doc-sirens-will-make-you-fall-in-love-with-lebanons-only-female-thrash-metal-band?source=articles&via=rss Sundance Doc ‘Sirens’ Will Make You Fall In Love With Lebanon’s Only Female Thrash Metal Band