Amplify Her artfully explores the place of femininity in electronic music
A documentary by Ian Mackenzie and Nicole Sorochan. Rating unavailable
Halfway through Amplify Her, a movie that showcases the stories of seven female producers and DJs, the camera follows Victoria-based artist AppleCat to Burning Man. A vital part of the festival’s lore is The Temple: a building that acts as a refuge, a place of mourning, or a site of healing, and is ritually burned at the end of the nine-day event. The Temple, we’re told, is exactly what a person needs it to be at that given moment. The same could be said of the film.
Part documentary, part animated motion comic, Amplify Her examines each woman’s struggle in their attempts to build a following for their art. On the surface, it’s biography at its most compelling. Focusing primarily on three performers—Vancouver’s sexually explicit music producer Blondtron (Samantha Matthews); previously homeless DJ AppleCat (Mya Hardman); and Lux Moderna (Madeline Fauss), a vocalist and DJ who navigates a life-changing illness to pursue her art—the film weaves parallels between the women’s experiences, highlighting their differences as well as their shared goals.
The context of the movie, however, lends it a deeper complexity. Electronic music remains a heavily male-dominated industry, with women forming a tiny portion of high-profile performers. Amplify Her adeptly examines the ways that each individual views their gender in relation to their art—and, in doing so, illuminates the difficult questions at the heart of modern-day feminism.
West Coast DJ WALA (Adi Laflamme) doesn’t want to be seen as a woman who paves the way for other women. “It’s not my cause”, she says in the opening minutes of the movie. Lux Moderna, with her love of “masculine” activities, has always felt as if she would be more comfortable as a man. Blondtron, meanwhile, performs a tits- and ass-shaking show to reclaim female sexuality as something playful and empowering, rather than shameful. In its compilation of each individual’s viewpoint, the movie delicately teases the question that’s puzzled advocates for generations: whether equality can be gained if women erase the differences between genders, or whether if women focus on celebrating femininity, it will elevate the importance of diversity.
On top of that vital discussion, Amplify Her is a visual feast. With stunning B-roll from B.C. festivals like Merritt’s Bass Coast, Port Renfrew’s Tall Tree, and Salmo’s Shambhala, the camera records the hedonism of dance music in artful slow motion. Perfectly capturing how these events accept alternative visions of femininity by existing outside of societal norms, the film acts not just as a platform for female expression, but an example of how those changes could be implemented in Western society.
Amplify Her plays at the Rio Theatre on Tuesday (November 28) at 6 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
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