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With Amplify Her, Nicole Sorochan and Ian Mackenzie have crafted a fascinating documentary exploring the uniquely individual perspectives of seven female electronic music artists operating in a historically male-dominated landscape. And while they all share a desire to be afforded only the opportunities their elite and disparate skillsets command, their observations, beliefs, and rationales for wanting to get there are highly nuanced from one artist to the next.
There's a moment in Amplify Her when the fascinating and insightful Blondtron is performing at a festival. Behind her, a series of festival organizers (all male) and other festival artists (yep, all male) are aggressively starting to push in on her stage show during a set that she's already shortened under immense coercive pressure. Soon, somehow it's Blondtron - after verbally defending her right to perform without infringement - that's been removed from the stage and from the festival as a whole (tough guys gotta put the little woman in her place, apparently). It's a profoundly agitating yet totally engrossing thing to watch. As a viewer, you might be interested to know that Amplify Her was shot before #MeToo was given a name and a set of values to wear that can indeed be wonderfully empowering and equalizing, but not without some arguable homogenization as a perceived side-effect. Would these male cretins have behaved the same way today - on- or off-camera - now that the spotlight has been rightfully refocused to better include the talents and plights of women? Are females in the music field now getting the opportunities their individual gifts always should've entitled them to? And if so, are they getting them because the art is appropriately being heralded, or because festivals are crudely wishing to commodify these societal shifts? Sounds like we need a sequel to find out!
It's hard to escape the notion that while Sorochan and Mackenzie may have set out only to create a film championing the incredible gifts of female electronic music artists in a male-entrenched world, what they've stumbled on here is much, much bigger: Through our society's transformation since its filming, the female artists in Amplify Her are now prophetic identities in hindsight; kind of sort of full-blown heroic shatterers of that ornery, no-longer-only-male-curated glass ceiling. There is still so much work to do out there, but as we look back on the short-term and give thanks to the faces and names that got us to this more evolved space, Amplify Her has become nothing short of absolutely critical viewing.
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