Thursday, September 13, 2012

TIFF 2012: The Secret Disco Revolution

The Secret Disco Revolution (Canada, 2012) directed by Jamie Kastner, 84 minutes
Thursday, September 13, 2012, 3p., Bloor Cinema

Aside from the silly fictional conceit that a trio of masterminds have orchestrated a secret revolution in creating disco to further the liberation of certain oppressed groups in society, the film has an amusing, quirky quality that pleased the audience. 

Director Jamie Kastner has a lively, playful style that engages archival material, old TV footage, interviews with record company execs and disco stars, and what appears to be personal videos taken, to illustrate the joyfulness of the beginnings of disco dancing and music. He charts the rise (and death) of disco in the 1970s in this documentary.

I am game in believing that women, gays and black people were given opportunities to shine in a hitherto possibly unfriendly music environment. One of the disco superstars talked about being on the "black track". If you were black (pre-disco and the mid 70s) and perceived to play primarily black music, it was near impossible to be played on a radio station that played mostly white music. With its popularity (and the possibility for greater commercial gain), black disco artists were seen as more profitable therefore marketable.

Fun to see Thelma Houston, Gloria Gaynor, Evelyn Champagne King, Anita Pointer, Kool (of Kool and the Gang), The Village People, KC (of KC and the Sunshine Band) these many years later ... I danced to all their songs. Many times! God, it was fun.

Certainly, the energy and the freedom that it celebrates still appeals. Was the infamous Studio 54 as wild and raucous and hedonistic as it has been portrayed? Apparently so ... with superstars publicly coupling unabashedly with busboys according to one interviewee.

The best part of this doc was watching The Village People, the ultimate gay icons, deny that any of the songs had a double entendre and getting snippy with Kastner when he persisted with this line of questioning.  

Kastner was self-effacing and articulate during the Q&A - and so happy that we were there to see his film!

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