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Punk Rock Biopic Hit At Sundance

Well into its first frenzied weekend, one of the standout premieres at this year's Sundance Film Festival is the musical biopic THE RUNAWAYS, based on the girl punk rock group of the same name. The film is adapted from the band's lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star.
The movie chronicles THE RUNAWAYS from 1975 - 1977 at the height of the punk rock revolution in the UK and the USA. Formed by teenage girls living near Hollywood, California, the band was managed by their mentor Kim Fowley (played by Michael Shannon) as 'jailbait rock' since all the girls were 16 or younger when the band recorded their first album. The band ultimately succeeds on their own merits as musicians, becoming the first all-girl rock-band to ever break into the world of arena-filling hard rock acts.
The movie focuses on the band's formation, and their meteoric rise to fame. Their first single, 'Cherry Bomb', got some attention in the United States but became a phenomenon in Europe and Japan. Following that success, the band embarked on some extensive tours, where they were often paired with such seminal 1970s acts as The Ramones, Cheap Trick and Tom Petty.

The girl musicians live the classic rock star life, an exhilirating mix of sex, drugs and rock n roll until their drug dependencies and internal tension begins to take its toll. In the film, Cherie (played by Dakota Fanning in her first truly grown up role) sees her personal life disnintegrate, and she burns out -- ultimately leaving The Runaways when they return to the U.S. This leaves the field open to fellow bandmate Joan Jett (played by the TWILIGHT superstar Kristin Stewart) to become the main face of the band and ultimately a bonafide rock n roll superstar.
The film captures the mix of lowlife atmosphere and high flying touring that became an intoxicating part of the punk rock lifestyle, as well as a cautionary anti-drug tale about the horrors of hard drug addiction. The film is the feature writing and directing debut of Floria Sigismondi, a well known photographer who has exhibited her works in Europe and North America and has also expanded into the arena of music videos, most notably her video for the song "The Beautiful People" for shock rocker Marilyn Manson.
Following the sold-out Sundance premiere on Saturday night, the hot event in town was the film's after-party when Joan Jett herself took to the stage along with her band, joined by
stars Kirsten Stewart and Dakota Fanning. The film will be distributed by new US arthouse shingle Apparition later this year.

Sandy Mandelberger, Festival Dailies Editor


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