“Sirens,” a documentary by Rita Baghdadi about Slaves to Sirens, an all-female metal group out of Beirut, Lebanon, opens in 2019 with the band united and happy — they’ve been invited by a record label to play a small stage at Glastonbury Festival in England. And while they wind up playing to a handful of people, the band gives its all.
Slaves to Sirens is a five-piece, and its neon-haired singer, Maya Khairallah, nails the monster voice that’s so common in contemporary metal. But the movie’s focus is on the band’s two guitarists and main composers, Shery Bechara and Lilas Mayassi. Baghdadi (“My Country No More”) shows how difficult it is to assert their identities in a repressive environment.
When the band returns home to Beirut, an environment in constant turmoil — one where they’re barely tolerated, if noticed at all — tensions emerge.
Nobody in the band is getting any younger. Lilas still lives with her mother. She has to enact childish subterfuges when her Syrian girlfriend comes to visit to hide the true nature of her relationship. Shery, bristling at Lilas’s bossiness (and perhaps still hurt because the two were once romantically involved), quits.
With few other choices, Lilas and Shery find their way back to each other, at least creatively. The ending, in which the reunited Sirens play before an enthusiastic crowd, is heart-tugging and rousing, even for non-metal heads.
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