Despite being up against the restrictions of a COVID-19 lockdown and with this, forced into being an online affair, The Doc Edge Festival is back for another year with another set of fantastic music films. One of these is We Rock! A short film documenting the annual Girls Rock Camp Aotearoa.
Directed by Morgan Leary, We Rock! Is an inside look at an event that has fast become an institution on the New Zealand music calendar. Founded in Portland in 2001 and bought to New Zealand in recent years, Girls Rock Camp is a week-long programme for girls, transgender and gender non-conforming youth aged between 12-17. During the week, participants form bands, learn instruments, attend workshops and write an original song which is then performed at a showcase to conclude the camp.
The documentary does a great job of showcasing the process of the camp and what happens throughout the week. Interviews are conducted with camp chairperson Nicole Gaffney and mentor Billie Rogers of Street Chant fame who do an excellent job in breaking down the different aspects of the camp and what activities take place. This included making the point that Girls Rock Camp is as far away from school as possible, a relief I am sure to the kids involved.
We also got to hear from some of the camp participants to get their thoughts on the experience and what goes on during the week. One intern, Edie, emphasised a key takeaway which was how everyone at the camp supports each other and that you did not necessarily need to have a musical background or skills to take part.
Offering a voice and space to girls and non-binary youth in music was also a strong theme in the film. In an industry that is so often dominated by men, the people involved in Girls Rock Camp made strong light of the fact that it is important such an event like this exists to give opportunities to often marginalised voices in music and to make it easier for women and transgender people to navigate the music industry.
The film concluded with footage from the end of week showcase and it was great to see what had been created during the camp and to see the camp participants' musical ideas come to fruition, remembering that at the start of the camp no bands had been formed and no material had been written.
At twelve minutes long, the director Morgan Leary managed to do a wonderful job in highlighting all the key elements of Girls Rock Camp in such a short space of time. At the end of the film, viewers are left with no doubt about what Girls Rock Camp is and what the aims and goals are of the camp. A difficult task I am sure but one Stewart managed to pull off without the final product seeming rushed.
The overall beauty of this film is that it offered a fantastic look into a charity that is doing great things for young people in music. Who knows if the future stars of the New Zealand music industry were on display in this film and whether in ten years the next wave of artists could emerge after taking part in Girls Rock Camp. For now, though, I can safely say that after watching this film you cannot help but feel excited that the future of New Zealand music is indeed in good hands.
Watch it here from June 12th.