Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Raise Your Arms and Twist, Documentary of NMB48’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Hot Docs 2017, Movies by - May 05, 2017
Hot Docs 2017: Our Review of ‘Raise Your Arms and Twist, Documentary of NMB48’

At first you may not be sure exactly what you are watching and truth be told, you may not shake that feeling upon viewing filmmaker Atsushi Funahashi’s colourful film ‘Raise Your Arms and Twist, Documentary of NMB48. Funahashi’s cameras follow the fame hungry young women of NMB48, an all girl pop super group out of Osaka, Japan and their male dominated fan base who help determine how successful the girls will be individually and within the group.

The motivations of these talented singers and dancers differ as greatly as their personalities. Some seek pop idol superstardom, or think pop idol status is a gateway to their next profession while others seek fortune to secure a better life for themselves and their families,

The competition is stiff, each girl constantly vying to be more popular than the next. The ultimate goal – rising through the ranks to be chosen as a member of a prestigious Senbatsu team whom record music videos that could lead to greater popularity at hand shake events, endorsement deals, and could culminate in being one of the top 80 idols in all of Japan through the bizarre and climactic ‘general election’.

Funahashi’s film is fun and captivating but it never quite becomes the philosophical musing it wishes to be. The film doesn’t delve into the intriguing relationship between the idols and their male dominated fans and management teams, even when the behaviour of one of the idols is called into question.  Instead, the film focuses on what is essentially a popularity contest where cute smiles and bubbly personalities are sometimes more important that the singing/dancing.  Pop super stardom has never been more unusual, but this film is definitely entertaining.

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Sarah has had a love affair the silver screen her entire life. Movies have always found a way to impact her life and she has always connected with the magic it has to offer. With a BA in Honours English Language and Literature, Sarah enjoys translating that magic, and sometimes the lack thereof, to the written word. Sarah is a stay at home mom with newborn twin boys and looks forward to the days where she can share her love of film with them. She counts The Last of the Mohicans, The Lord of the Rings -The Two Towers, Star Wars, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Army of Darkness, Goodfellas, Jaws and It's a Wonderful Life as some of her favourites.