Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story’

Posted in Festival Coverage, Film Festivals, Hot Docs 2018, Movies by - April 27, 2018
Hot Docs 2018: Our Review of ‘I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story’

The bizarre fanaticism that has always surrounded boybands has existed for decades, starting back with the gyrations of Elvis and the mop tops of the 4 lads from Liverpool, The Beatles. Most fans of musical acts can appreciate a level of devotion to their favorite acts, but boybands have always drawn almost rabid territorialism from their devotees.

I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story follows 4 such fans and their never-ending devotion to their beaus. There’s Elif, starting the film as a 16-year-old, whose devotion to 1 Direction is as intense and dramatic as a first love affair. Sadia, a lifelong Backstreet Boys fan in her mid 20’s who comes from a traditional Muslim family that cannot understand her fascination and why it still lingers. Dara, an out and proud gay female that still crushes on her beloved Take That. And finally, Susan, who at 64 still has mounds and mounds of Beatles paraphernalia.

The film follows our subjects through a couple of years and because of this naturally and organically progresses to be more a story about them than their obsessions. Elif goes through the most dramatic of changes as she grows up. Her immigrant family determined to have her go to post-secondary school to garner a better job while her musical addiction drives her to want to make music all her own. As an 18-year-old at the end of the film, her biggest decisions lie ahead of her.

Perhaps the most striking evolution of fandom comes from Sadia though, as she reflects on the bizarre and disturbing events of a recent Backstreet Boys cruise where hundreds of guest’s mob BSB members at every turn. There’s some generally scary footage as Nick Carter and his bodyguard must swim away from a group of oncoming fans that makes even Sadia uncomfortable.


Thur, April 26th- 9:15 pm TIFF Bell Lightbox

Fri, April 27th – Noon Hart House

Fri, May 4th- 9:30 pm Hot Docs Cinema

Sun, May 6th – 12:30 pm Hart House

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