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8 out of 10
Did you know that the Eurovision Song Contest has a Junior version? Well I didn't until I heard about this documentary. And when I got the chance to review it, I jumped in with both feet without looking, because sometimes it can produce good results, all of which has nothing to do with this film, so I'll stop digressing and get on with it.
Sounds Like Teen Spirit follows the journey of five hopeful acts all vying to be crowned Junior Eurovision monarchs at the 2007 Finals in Rotterdam. First up we get Bab, who with her band is in the Belgium region finals and you get the feeling you're going to follow this one right through to the end, until she gets knocked out by Trust and so we follow them to the finals instead. At least Bab gets to be the only person to stage dive at a Eurovision finals, even if it isn't the big show, she has that accolade all to herself. Trust meanwhile is another rock band but instead of focusing on one member, we follow the whole band's journey.
Next up is Cyprus' regional final winner Giorgos, this little lad isn't the sharpest tool in the box and prior to becoming a pop act got seriously bullied at school, so how else would you get over accusations like being called gay? That's right you sing and dance for you school and dress up in bright clothing on an international television show. It's nice then that he has a good life with a supportive family even if his Sister steals a little of his limelight on the documentary.
The third act we follow is Bon Bon from Bulgaria and there are quite a few in this girl group so we just follow Marina, the daughter of a wealthy business man who has unfortunately left her Mother and really doesn't seem to care that his Daughter is going to appear on Junior Eurovision. So even though she is rich with an exceptional education, she still has issues, like having to deal with her depressive Mother, who still works for her Father by the way at one of his Bowling Alleys.
The final act we follow is Georgia's entry Mariam, who seems to have very much the opposite of Marina as she lives in what really looks like extreme poverty with her family. Following her about her town reveals some of the most interesting parts of the film though. For example where have you seen a man literally selling oranges from the boot of his car or an orthodox Priest who loves hard rock like Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin?
The documentary shows these acts in their preparation and the build up for the finals, most amusing is the Trust drummers distracting libido, which means even when he's being interviewed he can't keep his eyes off the ladies! Before we see the finals, there is a brief history of European Wars; I suppose what the documentary maker is trying to say that over hundreds of years the wars in Europe are now fought in a TV studio in places like Rotterdam.
At the Finals we're treated to such nuggets as the Trust boys attempting to learn the group dance and song involving all the nights acts. We get all the journalists views and predictions, we see how much pressure is mounted on Mariam in solely representing her country's first foray into these finals and we also get to see the seeming timewarp our European neighbours are living in with some crazy outfits and hair styles. Oh and further craziness is the fact that the Russian entry actually looks like an adult just very, very small and how the Ukraine thought putting a young girl in a most revealing dress is perfectly OK?
I'm not going to give away the result but suffice to say that you can really sense how tense it was for the contestants and especially Mariam's Mother who couldn't afford to go with her like the other contestants' Families; she just gets to watch it on a crappy TV with the antenna stuck on with tape. In a nice touch we also see Bab return to give Belgium's phone vote results. And suffice to say that the winner is a shocking Eighties throw back and Mariam does very well, becoming an overnight superstar in her country and even gets a phone call from her President.