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The pig is the terminal corpse time - MIFF 2009 Blog

Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls (2009)

Director: Leanne Pooley
Starring Jools and Lynda Topp as Camp Mother & Camp Leader, Ken & Ken, Raylene & Brenda, The Gingham Sisters, Prue & Dilly
With interviews by Billy Bragg, John Clarke, Helen Clark and others

Tagline: "Camp Leader! Yes Camp Mother?"

I knew a bit about the Topp Twins, but not as much as I would like considering they are an institution in New Zealand. What made up my mind to go see this film is mentioning it to a couple of friends from New Zealand and having them go "Noooooooo!" and begging me not to see it, pretty much the wrong thing to say to me as I will rush out to see it just to annoy them. I stand by my decisions and wouldn't have gone to take photos of almost 700 performers in five years even when some people don't agree with me.

Starting out with the Lynda and Jools' early days on the farm, we follow their career from busking on the streets, threw their activism in the late 70s and 80s (people did boo the photo of Peter Garret at the screening in Melbourne) with lots of interviews from people who they have worked with and other admirers.

I enjoyed seeing the clips from their TV show in the late 90s as I remember seeing it on ABC TV in Australia quite a few times. It was funny in the Q&A after the film when someone asked if Lynda or Jools had tried politics and Leanne Pooley said the character Camp Mother ran for Mayor of Auckland and looked like she was going to win so they had to withdraw from the race.

Leanne also said there was lots of footage to choose from even going back to the early days as the girls were once arrested for causing a traffic jam in Auckland's main street while busking, they defended themselves in court and won.

There wasn't really any trouble getting people to say good things about the performers in the doco, the director wanted people with interesting things to say and there will be other parts that didn't make the film in the DVD special features.

I loved the joke that Camp Leader told at the Port Fairy Folk Festival in the film, hopefully there will be more of them on the DVD features also as it got some of the biggest laughs in the film.

I was quite young in the 1980s, so it was good to see some of the more political parts of the film including the part about Lynda and Jools being on the pitch in Hamilton when protestors halted a Sprinboks game with the All-Blacks in 1981 in an anti- apartheid protest.

The songs featured in the film were all great and I liked how they cut between Lynda and Jools singing them in historical footage and at the tribute concert featured in the documentary. I will have to buy a CD off their website ASAP.

There was a funny question in the Q&A about whether the socialite knew she was going to be portrayed the way she was with the "one of MY charities" line, the director said she was a bit worried that the woman would take offence at the premiere, but she was also happy to be in the film and knows that she is being pariodied.

I mentioned this documentary to some friends I know in the music scene and they are looking forward to it, so hopefully it goes as well in Australia and other territories as it did in New Zealand where it made over $1million on general release.

Rating: 9/10


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