The 2022 Inside Out Festival is here, celebrating LGBTQ+ stories from around the world. Sirens brings viewers the story of Lebanon’s first all-female metal band, Slaves to Sirens. This documentary has a lot to love…music, cultural commentary, and a spotlight on family and female relationships. In many ways, this documentary explores the true meaning of metal music through an unexpected lens.
Viewers are introduced to the band’s guitarist, Lilas, who is the movie’s focal point. Through her, we see her relationship with her mother, which is among the most compelling of those we’re shown. Hear leadership is evident when we see her bring the band together. She’s an imperfect heroine, but a relatable one. The way she uses music to process the world around her is inspiring.
Through Lilas, we get to see a clash of generations, and the changes in values society has seen overtime. While her mother wants her to focus on getting married, to a man, Lilas has other plans. Lilas’ relationship with the band’s lead singer, Shery, is clear immediately. It’s a fiery one, that we viewers get very short glimpses of through the movie. Their passion for their music is obvious, as they pore over details to spotlight the band.
Sirens is also a culture commentary, and spotlights examples of inherited trauma. Lilias distinguishes herself throughout the movie as a cycle-breaker. It’s obvious that mother and daughter are close. What also becomes apparent is that they each represent generational approaches to life. The music specifically really highlights generational divides, but also opportunities for further connections.
The entire story is a mediation on the power of music, and metal in particular. It gives artists and listeners alike power. The use of music throughout the movie elicits visceral reaction. In particular, transposed images of the August 4 Port of Beirut disaster is jarring. It’s impossible to look away when those kinds of images are combined with the sound of metal. The raw emotion metal uses is on full display throughout the story.
Finally, Sirens is also a meditation on love. As it’s said in the movie, “I used to think love is just poetry…romantic dinners and sex”. The ultimate conclusion, though, is that “It’s complicated”. Love is explored in so many venues. It’s heartbreaking to see how far society has to come in accepting LGBTQ+ love. It’s also inspiring to see people like those featured in this movie who never give up hope of creating a better, kinder world.
Sirens is the best kind of documentary. A cultural commentary combined with compelling, phenomenal women makes for a poignant experience. Combined with amazing music, it’s clear that the present and future are in good hands. Showcasing the humanity and imperfections of this group just trying to share their music makes them all the more relatable. Sirens should prompt all viewers to see the true power of music, and of artists who continue to inspire.
Sirens had it’s Canadian premiere at the 2022 Inside Out Festival.