Poignant and thoughtful documentary about a Lebanese metal band [Sundance]

With voiceovers from Lilas and Shery throughout, Baghdadi beautifully captures the essence of the band and why they gravitate towards metal music so much.

Metal music might not be to everyone’s taste, but Slave to Sirens, an all-female Lebanese metal band, might make people think differently about it. The band are so passionate about their music and Sirens, the documentary directed by Rita Baghdadi, shows how they use it to express themselves in a politically and economically unstable country. Slave to Sirens is a five-member band, but the documentary focuses on its two founders, Lilas Mayassi and Shery Bechara. Thought-provoking, beautifully edited and narrated, Sirens explores the relationship of band members to each other, gender and conformity in a society that is not always open to such things.


The film begins by focusing on the band’s music and their trip to a music festival in the UK. It doesn’t take long before Baghdadi moves on to the center Lilas and Shery, who work incredibly well together as musical partners. As the story unfolds, the couple’s history is revealed: Lilac and Shery are childhood friends who also had a romantic relationship. As Lilas began to show interest in other women, the two began to grow apart. Lilac loves women, but she is also uncomfortable talking about them openly to her mother and others. Her relationship with her mother is strained, the latter expecting Lilas to move out only when she finds someone to marry. Baghdadi captures Lilas’ restlessness, moving commentary and joy of acting particularly well.

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sirens movie review

Sirens is poignant and thoughtful in the way it explores Lilas and Shery’s experiences. Their lives are colored by Lebanon’s instabilities – citizens march during the 2019 revolution to protest against the government and its corruption, the 2020 Beirut bombing and the economic crisis, among others – and Lilas, in particular , struggles to be herself because she feels she won’t be fully accepted. This is reflected in the music of Slave to Sirens, which is a representation of their feelings and freedom of thought. However, it is not just about sadness or a feeling of rebellion, with Sirens dig deeper into the interiority of his subjects, their friendships and the way they engage with those around them.

With voiceovers from Lilas and Shery throughout, Baghdadi beautifully captures the essence of the band, and why they gravitate towards metal music so much, especially as they are the first all-female band in the Middle East. The film’s ability to get incredibly personal is what sets it apart. Shery and Lilac have great chemistry and their friendship is central to the film as they both work through communication and personal struggles. In a society that has its ups and downs and often feels insecure, they are each other’s rock and slave to the sirens, by extension, a radical expression of who they are.

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The only major problem that torments Sirens is the overall lack of focus on Slave to Sirens as a metal band. There is very little information about how the five members met, at least other than Lilas and Shery. To this end, Sirens fails the other band members, who get virtually no screen time, and the creation of their music. How is the life of the other members of the group? Are they struggling with similar things? Sirens doesn’t really dig into it all and leave out what could have been engaging and relevant about their stories.

Additionally, Baghdadi follows the band to one of their concerts, but it’s only at the very end, during the credits, that the audience can see more of their performanceshttps://www.imdb.com/title /tt10014534/ . The interpersonal drama and one-on-one focus on Shery and Lilas is great, allowing Baghdadi to dig deeper, but Sirens could have presented more of the music and the journey of the group as a whole in order to have an overview. All the same, Sirens definitely worth watching for the way it tells the stories of Shery and Lilas in particular, and the way Baghdadi frames their lives, although the musical aspect could have been developed.

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Sirens premiering at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. The film is 78 minutes long and is yet to be rated.

Our assessment:

3 out of 5 (good)

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