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London Film Festival top picks: ‘Sonic’

Time Out's critics select five films to look out for in the London Film Festival's ‘Sonic’ strand

1/5

Take electronica, hip hop, folk and traditional Egyptian music, put it all together and you have ‘Electro Shaabi’, a musical phenomenon that emerged from Cairo’s poorest neighbourhoods. The rise of ‘Mahragan’ music is documented here by Franco-Tunisian journalist and filmmaker Hind Meddeb, mixing interviews with DJs and MCs with scenes of exhilarating outdoor raves.

Read more about ‘Electro Shaabi’

2/5

Freda Kelly was a Liverpudlian Beatles obsessive who started their first ever fan club before being taken on by manager Brian Epstein to work as the group’s personal secretary, a job she held until they disbanded in 1970. This documentary from American filmmaker Ryan White is the first time Freda has told her own story.

Read more about ‘Good Ol’ Freda’

3/5

Mercifully, this isn’t a feature-length episode of that ropey historical programme they used to force kids to watch at school in the ’80s, but the latest collaboration between filmmaker Paul Kelly and electronic pop pioneers St Etienne.

Read more about ‘How We Used to Live’

4/5

Filmmaker Sini Anderson takes a look back at the birth of the Riot Grrl movement through the eyes of perhaps its finest exponent, Bikini Kill and Le Tigre frontwoman Kathleen Hanna, following her skyrocket career from her earliest musical experiments to her sudden, unexplained disappearance from the public eye in 2005.

Read more about ‘The Punk Singer’

5/5

It’s such a brilliant idea we’re amazed it’s taken so long for someone to make this film. For the first time, the spotlight is turned away from the world’s most famous musicians and onto their backing singers, such as Judith Hill, Darlene Love and Merry Clayton, whose performances have gone essentially unheralded for decades.

Read more about ‘Twenty Feet from Stardom’


The LFF has always attracted a strong selection of music films, both dramas and documentaries. This year, our ear is caught by groundbreaking Egyptian sounds, classic female-fronted punk and four pop moptops from Liverpool who might just make it big…

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