Lebanon’s first all-female thrash metal band is getting the spotlight in a new trailer for the Sundance Film Festival darling documentary Sirens. Set against the backdrop of a war-torn Middle East in a place where women’s rights are never assured, the film explores the story of Slave to Sirens and their quest for rock and roll fame. Specifically, much of it focuses on 23-year-old Lilas Mayassi who wrestles with how to be a leader to her bandmates in a tumultuous time when her band faces personal hardships and her country is on the brink of collapse.
The trailer starts on a triumphant note for Slave to Sirens as they travel to a UK music festival with hopes of making a splash beyond their native Lebanon. All the camaraderie and excitement the band shares fade into the background though as their appearance brings them no closer to stardom. Their return home reveals the harsh reality of their situation — their right to sing is constantly threatened, and they’re always at risk of war on their doorstep and instability within their streets. Despite being at the mercy of their circumstances, they continue to sing, playing wherever they can because it’s something they love and something they can control in their lives.
Yet, as Lilas points out, it’s never all about the music. The trailer shows the Sirens are still young women growing up in a world seemingly indifferent to them, if not designed against them. They find friendship and freedom with the band, but as the pressures of society and their failed attempts to accomplish their international rock star dreams weigh on them, cracks inevitably begin to form. Personal issues inevitably affect their relationships and their work, something that’s especially true of Lilas and the band’s co-founder Shery Bechara, whose complicated past leads to clashes. For Lilas and her bandmates, it becomes about discovering who they are and what they need to be as they scream out into an uncaring world.
Sirens is the latest film from L.A.-based filmmaker Rita Baghdadi, who this year also worked as a producer on the Tribeca Best Documentary contender Subject and previously directed the 2018 North Dakota oil boom documentary My Country No More. Her Middle East music doc earned plenty of plaudits itself, including taking home the Grand Jury Award from L.A. Outfest and earning a nomination at Sundance for the Grand Jury Prize in World Cinema for documentaries. Collider‘s own Rebecca Landman gave the film an A in her review, saying of Baghdadi’s work:
“A beautifully balanced portrait of young women, screaming to be heard within their deafeningly oppressive culture, Sirens succeeds in delivering the one thing every revolution needs most, hope. Defining oneself is never easy, but within this courageous story of five young women, rocking their ways toward a better life, there is remarkable resilience. A compelling reminder that music can be a powerful catalyst in the fight for freedom.”
Baghdadi also had some bigger names join her on the documentary with Natasha Lyonne (Russian Doll) and Maya Rudolph (Loot) boarding as executive producers. Emmy nominated producer Danielle Renfrew Behrens (Cobain: Montage of Heck) also executive produces with Camilla Hall (Subject) serving as a producer.
Sirens premiered at Sundance earlier this year and will debut in theaters in New York on September 30 before coming to Los Angeles on October 7 and more cities after that. Check out the trailer below.