'The Punk Singer' chronicles Kathleen Hanna's remarkable life — and mysterious illness
"Once she started treatment, it was a roller coaster — she got worse, and then she got better, then she got worse. We had to plan the interviews around when she was up for it," — explains Anderson, who, incredibly, was also diagnosed with Lyme disease during filming, from an unrelated incident. "I really believe there's so much power and strength in that vulnerability. It really is important for other women to see that we can tell our truth, we can let people see what's going on — that doesn't make us weak, that makes us stronger." Anderson is now working on another documentary specifically about Lyme disease.
During filming for The Punk Singer, Hanna decided to put together the Julie Ruin, her first new musical act since the end of Le Tigre. This year, the band released its full-length, Run Fast, on Dischord Records.
"She says it really eloquently in the film: when she realized that she may never again be able to do this thing she loves, she realized she wanted it more than ever," Anderson says.
For the director, one of the biggest moments during filming came from this realization. Hanna sits by her fireplace, surprising herself as she talks about why she quit music — why it was easier to just say she'd already said everything she'd needed to sing. She didn't want to admit to anyone, including herself, that she was quitting because she was sick. In the doc, Hanna seems taken aback and tears up a bit, but gives the go-ahead to keep filming.
The Punk Singer's other epiphany comes at the very end, on the last day of filming, in what became the last scene of the film. Hanna asks, "What is my story? I have no idea," and begins mentioning moments from her life. "I thought, who is going to believe me? Other women will believe me."
Says Anderson, "It was about being believed, and being heard, and having her truth be validated. That's [her] story." *
THE PUNK SINGER opens Fri/6 in San Francisco.
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