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Premieres & Events

NYC Premiere: Shut Up and Sing

Chicks with flicks: Emily Robison, Natalie Maines and Martie Maguire at the New York premiere of the documentary Shut Up and Sing (Photos: Christopher Campbell)

The Dixie Chicks may be trying to distance themselves from the country music community, but I would have at least expected someone associated with the record industry to attend the Tuesday premiere of their new documentary Shut Up and Sing. Instead, the guests were as random as Sandra Bernhardt and Stanley Tucci ("He's supposedly a big fan," a publicist told me). The film's distributor, Harvey Weinstein, also showed up, though he could be found wandering the lobby while the film played.

Shut Up and Sing was directed by Cecilia Peck and Oscar winner Barbara Kopple, but lead Chick Natalie Maines told me that most of its brilliance occurred in post-production. "About half the footage was done before we even knew Barbara Kopple," Maines told The Reeler Tuesday night. "When she came on board, she had 700 hours to watch." The seamlessness of the film, which began with a two-man crew back in 2003 and resumed shooting with Kopple and Peck in 2005, is an exceptional display of narrative structure discovered through editing.

"We didn't know what it was for," Maines said of the earlier material. "We just kept the cameras rolling and just felt that what was happening as far as the country was concerned in 2003 -- what America was like -- was being captured by these cameras. And it was important to keep them rolling."

What was happening was a career- and life-threatening backlash following Maines' comments at a concert just before the Iraq War. Specifically, she said the group was embarrassed that President Bush was from Texas, the Chicks' own home state; in the subsequent months the group faced boycotts, radio bans, CD-burnings and death threats as the story snowballed through the media.

Maines said she hopes this film will set the record straight on who the Chicks really are. "If it doesn't … I throw my hands up." Still, she added, "I find it hard to believe that the haters are going to see the movie."

As per the distribution contract, Harvey Weinstein gets his one song in with Robison and Maines.

But in skipping Shut Up and Sing, those haters will miss a remarkably intimate portrait. As the Chicks venture into the recording of a new album with fears of never bouncing back, Kopple and Peck show the group in times of vulnerability and also in times of great honesty. I asked if it was an advantage having women directors to capture such candor -- everything from visits to the obstetrician to down time in which the Chicks joke about blowjobs. Maines demurred. "I think just being in a band, we were just always hanging with the boys," she said, alluding to the two men who shot the earlier footage.

Maines' band mate, Martie Maguire, on the other hand, thinks that being familiar with Peck beforehand helped somewhat. "We had met Cecilia many times," Maguire told me. "She was there when Barbara took over; she was there most of the time. And I remember feeling really at ease with her -- that she wouldn't let really bad stuff make the movie."

"What bad stuff?" Maines joked just before the trio's handlers whisked them into the theater, never to reveal their secret. I suppose there's always the DVD. -- Christopher Campbell

Posted at October 25, 2006 7:54 AM

Comments (13)

I hope the movie does great! I miss the Dixie Chicks - I have their last CD and love it. I can't believe the backlash they've gotten.

I love the chicks!
I am 72 and if they were my grand kids I would be so proud of them for being being alot more sdult than those that would silence them.

It is really quite simple. They expressed what I and a lot of others consider an extremely poor statement and now they have to live with the results of that statement.

How many other popular entertainers have faded away because of makeing the wrong statement at the wrong time.

You are free to express your opinion and I am free to boycott the sale of your recordings.


I am ashamed of the Dixie Chicks. They are simply showing their inability to follow leardship in any fashion. They are acting liked spoiled children. Maybe it is time to grow up girls. You make Americans look stupid and ungreatful. No wonder you can't pack a stadium any more.

The Chicks are three smart, with it, informed, family oriented women. People that are offended by their opinions about our President, and that try to ruin their careers because of their honest feelings that our President is doing a lousey job are not real Americans. These people are trying to black ball really fine artists because they express opinions that at least 50% of American voters have. McCartyism is ugly and people that are blackballing the Dixi Chicks are doing what Joe McCarthy did years ago. It damages our stature in the world when some of us try to ruin a career of people because we disagee with their view of the President and the world.

Why do "entertainers" always think they should have more "stroke" when it comes to their opinions? They are JUST like the rest of us....the have an opinion, nothing more.

JANE FONDA screwed up big time, can't they see the parallel?

They have the right to AN opinion, they exercised it. I have the right to NOT want to hear their opinion IN PUBLIC, and I have the right to let them know I disapprove, by not buying their product.

the dixie chicks need to keep their opinons to them selfs
they are entertainers, I don't care about their politics

i ve always been a fan of the chicks and it really hurts when the american gov't can conspire to destroy a group of entertianers for having an opinion. let these girls get back to entertaining .
if i were an american i too would be ashamed of Bush...... but i'm CANADIAN and i 'm still ashamed of him.

Americans should stand behind our leaders and if you don't like what's going on in Washington, vote to change it - but do not bad-mouth our leadership in public. They should be grateful they are not in one of the countries that would have beheaded them for their comments!

It's a shame people in this country expect a lot more from 20-30 year old entertainers than they do from their elected officials. At least the Chicks' "Mistake" didn't get anyone killed.

I feel that what the DCX said, really wasn't bad, we are lucky to have freedom of speech in the U.S. and if you can't speak your mind freely whereever you are that why be an American. The DCX rock and no matter what they do or say I will personally support them.

Thanks for helping!

I read this as kind of boilerplate "Americans are dumb" Euro-speak.

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