20 music documentaries you must watch if you liked A Star is Born

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The Punk Singer: A Film About Kathleen Hanna

The next singer couldn’t be any different than Whitney Houston, but she is an icon in her own right. Kathleen Hanna is a feminist singer who is best known for fronting the punk bands Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, and in the 2013 documentary The Punk Singer, audiences got a closer look at the central figure of the riot grrrl movement.

This film focuses on the life and career of feminist icon Hanna, who is still performing at the age of 50. Hanna had an interesting life, so the film starts with her troubled upbringing, then focuses on her spoken word performance poetry as well as her riot grrrl zines and of course, her successful career. Besides performing with Bikini Kill and Le Tigre, she also has a solo career under the name Julie Ruin, and she coined the phrase “Smells Like Teen Spirit” for Kurt Cobain (which went on to be Nirvana’s most recognizable song).

Audiences also got to see a glimpse at Hanna’s personal life, including her marriage to Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys and her 2010 diagnosis of Lyme disease. We also get to witness the severe treatments she undergoes to combat it.

Director Sini Anderson filmed Hanna for a year starting in July 2010, and also included a collection of archival footage that Hanna had collected over the years, such as many of her live performances. It premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2013 and also got a limited theatrical release.