“I Rock, I’m Powerful, I sing…I’m Incredible!”
On October 7 at NMWA, watch how—in just one week at Rock ’n’ Roll Camp in Portland, Oregon—girls ages 8 to 18 learn to play an instrument, form bands, write a signature song, and perform it before a screaming audience. In the process, they learn that it’s “100% okay to be exactly who you are.”
This documentary (2008, 90 min., directed by Arne Johnson and Shane King) follows four campers of different ages and backgrounds and shares their unique stories, interests, and struggles. The focus is on Laura, a fifteen-year-old obsessed with death metal and bunnies; Misty, 17, who is recovering from a past of drug addiction and homelessness; eight-year-old Amelia, who writes song about her dog Pippi; and seven-year-old Palace, who has a talent for screaming. While they have their own stories, they are united by similar anxieties about identity and acceptance. Through interviews with the girls and their families, viewers can clearly see a picture of their lives outside of camp and understand campers’ struggles.
The camp addresses the constant pressures the girls face from society and the media, and the counselors give them a sense of hope by teaching them it is perfectly fine to be different, to be loud, and to make yourself heard. Camper Laura takes these lessons to heart: After starting the week alone, she finds her place, becomes friends with the other girls in her band, and discovers positive new qualities in herself.
Rock ’n’ Roll Camp ends as the girls performing with their bands in front of a very large and very supportive crowd. As you watch the performances, and the girls’ smiles afterward, you can see how they have grown in just that one week, gaining a sense of pride and accomplishment from making music. As Misty says, “It makes me feel like I can go out and do anything I want to do, and if they say anything bad, they’re just a critic.”
This is a great movie for parents to see with their daughters, and for anyone interested in the transformative power of music.
—Deanna Doyle is the education intern at the National Museum of Women in the Arts.
Girls Rock! The Movie is shown through a partnership between Girls Rock! DC and NMWA during the exhibition Women Who Rock: Vision, Passion, Power (on view at NMWA through January 7). Visit our website for more information on this special screening of Girls Rock! The Movie at NMWA and for a complete listing of our upcoming events.