Rita Baghdadi’s Sirens is a documentary that centres on the Lebanese all-female thrash metal band, Slaves to Sirens. The documentary opens with the hopeful and exciting invitation for the band to perform at Glastonbury Festival in England. After their performance, everything changes and their rise to fame leads to bumpy steps. The documentary chronicles their friendship and the hardships one of the band members have due to their personal conflict. Sirens is a moving documentary that captures the difficulty of life in Lebanon and leads to a lot of questions regarding friendship, sexuality, and fame.
The all-star female thrash metal band hopes to make it big one day. However, because of the shadows of the parents’ civil war and the devastating port warehouse explosion, Lebanon is on the brink of collapse. Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara, co-founders of Slaves to Sirens, and their bandmates, Maya Khairallah, Alma Doumani, and Tatyana Boughaba, seek fame and fortune. Their dream is to reach the world’s biggest stage. After being spotted in a magazine feature, they get a call to perform at Glastonbury. After returning to Lebanon, cracks begin to form within the group. All of this begins with a frustrating Lilas, who desperately wants to express herself.
All of Lilas’ frustrations are set against the backdrop of s political and societal issues in Lebanon. Lilas and Shery share a creative partnership but their friendship is volatile. Lilas lives with her mother and younger brother outside of Beirut. By day, she is a music teacher for young kids and by night, she feels more alive than ever. She hides her sexuality from everyone else. She courts a woman online, someone with whom she has been talking across the border in Syria. Lilas’ main frustrations come with being unable to express herself. She spends her nights out at clubs dancing but at home, she feels trapped. It’s a never-ending cycle and she slowly begins to throw her frustrations towards Shery and the band.
Baghdadi documents the bandmates through the ebbs and flows of their volatile relationship. The band’s journey is the central story of the documentary. Sirens presents a world and a group that is unlike what is seen in Middle Eastern countries: an all-female thrash metal band, which is normally dominated by men. It’s a compassionate movie that expresses the frustrations that these women go through in their daily lives. When they perform, their songs represent oppression and fear of the ever-present world rocking out with their instruments and dark makeup. But when they are together, there is a sense of tenderness and delightful moments between them — moments filled with togetherness and love.
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Nuha Hassan is a film and TV writer and reviewer, based in the Maldives. She is a Staff Writer at Film Cred, Off Colour, and Flip Screen. Apart from writing about film, she is a Video Editor at Dead Central. She studied Master of Media at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her love for film started with David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Her favourite comfort film is When Harry Met Sally.