Should parents send their 8-year-old daughters to a theme camp that teaches them to aspire to the satisfactions of being in a rock and roll band? According to the documentary "Girls Rock," apparently, some do.
Did you know that "Girls are the only group in society that starts school with a testing advantage and leave with a disadvantage"? Here's another researched tidbit from the film: "Twice as many boys as girls say their talents are what they like most about themselves. Girls are nearly twice as likely as boys to mention a physical characteristic as the thing they like most about themselves."
In its curious five-day journey of discovery and accomplishment, the camp uses rock and roll to focus on what girls can do, not on what they look like. Girls ages 8 to 18 form a band, write a song and learn how to perform it in front of hundreds of people. "Girls Rock" is not about some elite group of specially gifted and trained youngsters. Most of the girls have little or no background in music.
The prospect of learning how to play the guitar in five days is only one of the counter-intuitive aspects of the camp and the film. Like the term "counter culture," however, it's not that this camp for girls lacks intuition or culture. On the contrary - and less contrary than people might too quickly judge - it builds an alternative.
Toward becoming instant rock and rollers, the girls have to get along in an environment that seems at once fun and stressful. Behaviors range from too shy to too outgoing. The process matters more than the results, but the results are roughly cool. Even if none of the camp's graduates ever tour in a rock band, the girls do earn a peculiarly empowering credential.
Playing at 1 p.m., Aug. 19, the last day of the four-day Nevada City Film Festival (www.nevadacityfilmfestival.com), "Girls Rock" is a noisy film - literally and in its style and message. Nonetheless, it offers the kind of documentary and independent spirit that builds an alternative for filmmakers and film goers.