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The Punk Singer (2013)

Not Rated | | Documentary, Biography, Music | 10 March 2013 (USA)
2:17 | Trailer

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A look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the "riot grrrl" movement of the 1990s.


1 win & 6 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tammy Rae Carland ...
Kathryn Wilcox ...
Herself (as Kathi Wilcox)
Tobi Vail ...
Billy Karren ...
Himself (archive footage)
Becca Albee ...
Corin Tucker ...
Allison Wolfe ...
Herself (as Allison C. Wolfe)
Ann Powers ...
Herself, music critic
Lynn Breedlove ...
Herself (as Lynnee Breedlove)
Sara Marcus ...
Herself, author of 'Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution'
Jennifer Baumgardner ...


A look at the life of activist, musician, and cultural icon Kathleen Hanna, who formed the punk band Bikini Kill and pioneered the "riot grrrl" movement of the 1990s.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Not Rated | See all certifications »


Official Sites:



Release Date:

10 March 2013 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A punk csaj  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$24,729 (USA) (29 November 2013)


$121,418 (USA) (10 January 2014)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
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Did You Know?


[last lines]
Kathleen Hanna: I don't give a shit what people think. I know what's real, I don't care if people don't think feminism is important, because I know it is. And I don't care if people don't think late stage Lyme disease exists, because I have it, and other people have it. And we help each other, and we know it exists. And other people can think what they want. My problem is when people get in the way of feminism. Or people get in the way of people who are sick, getting better, because they don't ...
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Written by Kathleen Hanna, Johanna Fateman, Jocelyn Samson (as JD Samson)
Performed by Le Tigre
Courtesy of Strummer/Universal
[From the album "This Island"]
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User Reviews

A long-overdue doc
5 June 2015 | by (Bath, Somerset, United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

So after what seems like forever I finally got to see "The Punk Singer" the other night and I just wanted to share some thoughts on it. Watching a documentary about Kathleen Hanna was always going to be quasi-religious for me because I adore her. There wasn't really much in there that fans of Kathleen/Bikini Kill won't already know but that's kind of to be expected for a documentary about such a small subculture. Having said that there were some great interviews with her friends and fans, including the ever awesome Corin Tucker from Sleater-Kinney and a whole host of academics.

It was really cool to listen to people talk about how much of an impact she's had on them, and also to see how, 20 years on from their inception, both Bikini Kill and the wider riot grrrl movement are now being solidified into mainstream feminist history. Another real joy for me was the inclusion of a plethora of rare live footage clips, so many of which are hard to come across online. There's few pleasures in life equal to that of watching a semi-naked Kathleen scream into the face of a burly six-foot male audience member like some royally ticked off dragon. Just the sheer energy of the woman is astounding.

Being a London-based fan of Kathleen is frustrating because she never comes to the UK and it's hard to see or listen to the already limited amount of media stuff she does do. It was great to see recent interviews with her in this documentary, and I was really moved to hear her discuss the terrible ordeal of being diagnosed with Lyme disease, something she never really seems to talk much about. By the time the lights came up I had a whole other level of respect for her, not just because of the way she copes with that shitty disease but because of all the stuff she's been through in her personal life. She's truly inspirational. Dealing with the anti-feminist backlash that kicked off in the wake of Bikini Kill takes an enormous amount of self-conviction and integrity and she's a role model for me because of that.

I honestly don't know what kind of person I'd be without Bikini Kill or Kathleen Hanna in my life. I'd probably be frothing at the mouth in a gutter somewhere out of sheer frustration. When all's said and done it would've been so easy to budge, to sell out and jack in all the activism for an easy life - we're so lucky she didn't.


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