DOCS TO WATCH: THE FANDOM
As we’ve been re-watching Daisy Asquith’s films this week in the run up to the next DocHouse Conversations podcast in which she features, we got to thinking about the fanboys and fangirls in all of us, and the great documentaries out there that have dug deep into various fandoms.
If you ever need to be reminded about how human the need to be part of a community is, how fiercely humans can connect with strangers around the world under a shared passion, and how strong the emotional attachments we make are during unsettled times, look no further than the Fandom documentary.
This collection of docs may make you cringe, may make you laugh, may even make you cry, but they will almost certainly make you connect at some level - at a time when we perhaps all need it the most.
So, don your original tour t-shirt, get out your signed beer mat and call your tribe onto WhatsApp! Kicking off with Daisy’s film about die-hard One Direction fans, here are five absolute treats to enjoy watching online.
CRAZY ABOUT ONE DIRECTION Daisy Asquith / 2013 / 53 mins
“You have all these other girls that like One Direction, that are exactly like you… you feel like ‘yeah i’m normal, I’m part of this gang’... It’s like being in a cult or a sect or something. It’s just cool.”
Daisy Asquith meets One Direction's superfans, who confess the lengths they will go to to meet the band, their sense of community and their fierce rivalries too.
When the film aired on Channel 4, no-one could have predicted the extreme backlash as fans took to twitter to complain, making it the most tweeted-about documentary on television, to the surprise of the director. Although, if there’s one thing we learn from the doc - the 1D fandom love to take to twitter!
Watch Crazy About 1D here.
OUR HOBBY IS DEPECHE MODE Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams / 2006 / 67 mins
Also titled The Posters Came From the World, Jeremy Deller and Nick Abrahams’ much-loved doc discovers the dedicated global followers of Basildon natives Depeche Mode. Lifelong, devoted ‘Depecheists’ are celebrating Dave Gahan’s birthday on the streets of St Petersburg and singing Your Own Personal Jesus from LA to Berlin.
In fact, for Eastern European fans, the band was a life-saving connection to Western pop culture from behind the Iron Curtain, and that connection still runs deep.
Our Hobby is Depeche Mode appeared online in 2019 after years of cult obscurity. You can watch it on Nick Abrahmas’ vimeo channel here.
HEAVY METAL PARKING LOT Jeff Krulik and John Heyn / 1986 / 16 mins
Now we’re jumping back to 1986 for a real cult classic, set in the car park outside a Maryland arena as heavy metal fans amass for a Judas Priest concert.
At just 16 minutes, Heavy Metal Parking Lot captures a certain time and place perfectly - being young, wasted, giving no f**** and loving ‘the Priest’.
In the 90s, the film was traded on bootleg VHS tapes. These days, you can watch it online here.
I USED TO BE NORMAL: A BOYBAND FANGIRL STORY Jessica Leski / 2018 / 96 mins
From the Beatles to the Backstreet Boys, Take That and of course One Direction - the dewy-eyed line up of boys may change, but the wild ardour they inspire in teenage girls is pretty consistent.
The four fangirls in Jessica Leski’s joyful doc are at different ages and stages of their lives now: Susan, in her sixties, reminisces about the same kind of feelings that teenager Elif is experiencing in the present.
But the comparison between these different women doesn’t diminish or invalidate their feelings - if anything, it speaks to a universal truth, a commonality of feeling which Leski brings through with humour and empathy.
Watch I Used to Be Normal on Vimeo on Demand.
SPRINGSTEEN AND I Baillie Walsh / 2013 / 77 mins
What better way to close than with The Boss? Bruce Springsteen’s legion of adoring fans pay homage to the big man, who - considering he’s stadium-packing rock star royalty - has the closest bond possible with his fandom.
Somewhere between a concert doc and a love letter, Springsteen and I combines personal videos from over 2000 fans across the world with concert footage and rare performance archive.
As the fans passionately talk about the way he has soundtracked their lives for decades, it’s hard not to feel the power and pull of the relationship between superstar and superfan.