Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits
14th October 2017 9.00pm at BFI Southbank
15th October 2017 3.30pm at BFI Southbank (NFT)
“These girls make the Sex Pistols look like choir boys,” was a statement describing 1970s all girl punk band The Slits when they first came on the music scene in the UK. William E Badgley’s Hear to Be Heard: The Story of the Slits documents these “girls on a mission” who were breaking the barriers of a traditionally male-dominated medium. The milieu at the time is depicted as a very sexist middle class patriarchal society – it was a pressure cooker environment for rebellion and “out of that came music”. The London cultural climate was ripe for Punk, but these female rockers took it to the edge.
Containing interviews with original Slits musicians Viv Albertine, Tessa Pollitt and drummer Paloma McLardy (Palmolive), friends and other musicians, such as Sex Pistols’ Paul Cook, the piece is a compelling look at an era and a rock group not well known to many of us.
The making of this movie was instigated by the band’s iconic singer Ari Up during The Slits’ 2006/2007 reunion tour, but after her unexpected death from cancer in 2010, filming stopped until it was taken over by Badgley. Up’s motivation for making the piece was the fact that this band was groundbreaking, setting a precedent; yet after they broke up in 1982 it was completely forgotten – what she called “unacceptable erasure”.
Badgley was inspired by the desire to ensure the story of these trailblazing women was not left untold. Although he was initially worried about being a man filming a documentary about feminists, he realised that such an inhibition would be just another form of gender bias, since feminism concerns both women and men.
Pioneers in the melding of dub, reggae and punk, The Slits defined what was called “Punky Reggae”, and were inspirations for future artists like Sonic Youth, Gossip and Sleater-Kinney.
These raging feminist warriors caused outrage – just the name of their band was anarchistic and considered obscene. They altered the still conservative, male-dominated British cultural setting of the 1970s, irreverently smashing boundaries. “The first one through the wall gets bloody” is a phrase that, in Badgley’s eyes, sums up the spirit of The Slits.
A fascinating exposé of a raucous, rebellious, groundbreaking female rock group, hitherto obscured in history, Hear to Be Heard: The Story of the Slits is an intriguing, thought-provoking revelation.
Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews and interviews from our London Film Festival 2017 coverage here.
For further information about the festival visit the official BFI website here.
Watch the trailer for Here to Be Heard: The Story of The Slits here: