Festival gem: She Said Boom

Documentary about the groundbreaking queer feminist art band Fifth Column, who were at the centre of Toronto’s influential Queercore scene in the 1980-90s.

Alex Davidson
Updated:

What’s it about?

Fifth Column were a queer feminist post-punk band from Toronto. Best known for their provocative anthem ‘All Women Are Bitches’, they were central to the mid-80s Queercore scene (although they preferred the term ‘homocore’), promoting their music through zines.

Band members came and went, but founding members G.B. Jones and Caroline Azar remained throughout the group’s life span. Jones, Azar and several former band members are interviewed, alongside collaborators and admirers including filmmaker Bruce LaBruce, performance artist Vaginal Davis and Bikini Kill singer lead Kathleen Hanna.

If you haven’t heard of them, it’s not that surprising. The documentary argues that the band’s queerness restricted them from breaking out into the mainstream, alongside their refusal to compromise their art.

Who made it?

Debuting director Kevin Hegge.

What’s special about it?

The music, for starters. There’s plenty of archive footage of live performances, showing that they had the musical talent to back up their radical image.

The talking heads are riveting. Riot grrrl kickstarter Kathleen Hanna humbly claims that female-led bands such as L7 and her own Bikini Kill were much easier to market to a straight public than Fifth Column. Bruce LaBruce discusses his time spent as a go-go dancer for the band (a gender-bending too far for some, that nearly provoked violence in one audience).

But it’s the band members themselves who linger in the memory most, particularly the indecently charismatic G.B. Jones, who starred in LaBruce’s No Skin off My Ass (1993). The anecdote about the health inspector who visit the band’s raccoon-infested house, complete with video footage of the squalor, is a standout. They talk candidly about the tensions in the group, and recall some of the key moments of their career, including their refusal not to play a particularly radical song at a comeback concert, which saw them blacklisted just as they were approaching commercial breakthrough.

What our programmer says

Nazmia Jamal:

[Kevin] Hegge builds an exciting picture of visionary punks living outside of the system in crumbling buildings – making art, music, film and starting fanzine wars.

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