Corona Cork Film Festival 2012: Tuesday Report – ‘Punk in Africa’ & ‘Satan’s Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassel’

 

Punk in Africa
Directed Keith Jones and Deon Maas
Punk may have its repetitive core but at heart it was a necessary clearing of the decks for musical hubrison this side of the world. Rising through the fog of overcooked flamboyance, it was a giddy rush of rebellion weighted heavily with aggression and disillusionment. Of course the revolution was not just musical or aesthetically speaking, it was deeply political. That it was so, here in Europe where rights were far more recognised than elsewhere, just imagine the touchstone it provided in somewhere like South Africa where the regime was far stricter on things they found “undesirable”.

 

This busy film touches on many of the key bands of the South African Punk scene, encompassing the tangential corners, with acts that dabble in metal, ska and funk. However the primary focus is on brash punk which took hold in the late ’70s/early ’80s and the film is inspiring when looking at these grassroots moments, the community, the rivalries, the triumphs and the break ups. To be fair this follows straight music and punk trajectory, the style of the genre so entrenched that the early bands sound like their contemporaries elsewhere in the world. It’s when the film starts to delve deeper into the political ramifications and obstacles, and the struggle against Apartheid that the film forges an identity of its own.

 

It’s a fine look at an underground movement but without a personal invested interest, or a gateway band that I already loved,some of this feels quite academic, just a flurry of names and styles. Yes I have been introduced to a whole new arena of punk but I’m not sure, even with the all the respect earned here that I’d investigate the scene after this.

 

 

Satan’s Angel: Queen of the Fire Tassels
Directed by Josh Dragotta

 

Documentaries are dominating my coverage of the festival this year and here we have another one, this time in the saucy subculture of Burlesque as the life of trail blazer Satan’s Angel is charted, from her humble beginnings of tastefully posing nude in an art class to her continuing success as elder stateswoman of the scene.

As a central figure Angel can only dominate the piece, her brassy, no nonsense attitude eliciting a few laughs and revealing as many insecurities. Despite a huge confidence on stage especially when rocking her signature gimmick, twirling tassels set on fire, the film gives us insights into her struggles with her sexuality, the awkwardness of dating,the highs and lows of an industry where seduction, rather than sex, sells.One of the most interesting sections of the piece is when the Burlesque community discuss the onset of harder pornography and how it threatened the (and I use this term oddly) chaste act they employed in relation to it.
Burlesque seems predicated on the fantasy rather than the act, it’s outlandishness feeding into the general atmosphere, so when popular culture became more sexualized in radical terms, the scene became quaint for a while. Dalliances with some celebrities are alluded to but not lingered on as much as they could be, the more salacious details left out with Clint Eastwood being the celebrity date of choice but barely featuring as a story, let alone as gossip.

Still a blustery presence well into her 60s Angel is an inspiration to a whole slew of performers and the majority of the film is seeing a unified community pay tribute to her. Granted we’re seeing her friends and her fans but there’s genuine affection on display. Angel’s mother is a revelation of support as she stuck by her daughter through her controversial choices and the depths of addiction and drug abuse. An intriguing but hardly essential documentary that might disappoint a certain contingent who came for more titillation and less cautionary tale.

Emmet O’Brien
Share

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *