It’s always nice to watch something like Fanny: The Right to Rock, a documentary that, for the most part, knows how to pace its storytelling. Within twenty minutes, it deals with the titular band’s beginnings with sisters June and Jean Millington as half-Filipina girls who dealt with racism through music. It competently mixes archive photos and contemporaneous interviews, as movies like these do, the latter contextualizing the former. The interviews reveal the competition between these women, as healthy as such competition can be. The band, after all, has two talented drummers both of them having more than one musical skill.
The interview segments also illuminate the importance of a trailblazing band telling their story for the first time and doing it right. This is specifically important for June and one of the drummers, Alice de Burh, who are lesbians and had a relationship at a time when free love didn’t allow for lesbians. It’s revelatory to understand the burden of constant racism and homophobia they experience from their industry. Sure, these women speak to the camera as if the questions feel like softball ones. But I can’t stress the importance of seeing a generation survive long standing prejudices.
Those prejudices against Jean and the rest of the gang manifest in different ways, existing more as barriers now. The Millingtons, with Alice and Brie Darling reunited for a new album. But Jean’s stroke complicates the reunion tour that would have given them more revenue. The film tackles that hurdle in Jean’s already long and eventful life with much respect. There’s a realism to the film as it follows these women as the rally for their sister. And despite of what happened to them in the past, their sisterhood is an example to the future generations of female rock stars.