Sundance Review: Documentary Sirens Find Purpose and Power In Thrash Metal

An all-female thrash metal band grows up, together, and apart in war-torn Lebanon

Sirens Review Sundance

This review is part of our coverage of the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.

The Pitch: In the repressive, conservative environment of Beirut, amidst waves of political protest and rapidly-changing social norms, Slave to Sirens stands out. They’re an all-female thrash metal band, pretty much the only one of its kind in Beirut, and they rock.

The five-woman band was co-founded by guitarists Lilas and Shery, two best friends who bond over their shared desire to break free of the restrictive gender roles Lebanese culture has in store for them. It’s a journey begrudgingly tolerated, if not exactly encouraged, by their parents, but that doesn’t stop them from chasing their hot streak of sweet licks.

But there’s tumult within the band as well, especially as Lilas and Shery’s creative differences begin tumbling into full-blown arguments. It doesn’t help, of course, that Lilas is more openly embracing her queerness after an off-screen fling with Shery early in their friendship; Lilas’ new girlfriend appears and becomes an immediate source of tension, Slave to Sirens’ version of Yoko. Will the band make up, and will they get the chance to bring their particular brand of full-throttle jams to their people, and biggest venues like Glastonbury?

We Are Lady Parts: If any of Sirens sounds like the overall premise of Peacock’s ceaselessly charming British import We Are Lady Parts, you’re not far off. That it’s about as winsome as that show, albeit with a few more holes in its presentation, is a testament to its effortless likability. Filmmaker Rita Baghdadi situates us firmly in the cacophonous streets of Beirut from the start, ancient architecture scribbled with “FUCK THE SYSTEM” graffiti and protests in the streets that suddenly unfold in the background of more intimate discussions.


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