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Iceland Techno Band 'Hatari' Inspires in Anna Hildur Documentary 'A Song Called Hate'

Band member of Hatari before taking the stage at Eurovision, 2019.

Leather Harnesses. Black Eyes. Red lights and techno beats. No, this isn’t the beginning of the Rubber Ball, it’s the ethos embodied by the 2019 Eurovision’s Icelandic entry, BDSM techno band Hatari.

Seeing Hatari perform on stage is a fluid fever dream delivered by seemingly genderless beings laced with spikes, collars, and 7-inch heels. While some may prematurely judge and see an angry group of young freaks screaming about hate, those without repressive goggles see and hear what Hatari is all about - coming together as one, or hatred will prevail.

Promoting themselves as anti-capitalist, supporters of the band and the Icelandic music scene are shocked when Hatari enters their song “Hatred will prevail” into Europe’s biggest song competition, Eurovision. And, on top of that, the contest is slated to take place in Tel Aviv, Israel, a military occupation in Palestine. Asserting that hosting the contest in Tel Aviv is in itself political, Hatari decides to accept the invitation to compete.

The majority of the film takes place in both Israel and Palestine, opening an intimate window to daily life under military occupation. Everywhere the film crew goes, there is a stop where identification is required and sometimes denied. Multiple times the groups’ guide is not allowed to pass through a checkpoint, quipping that “you have to be smart in this city” after telling a guard that he was born in Jerusalem. The tension rises as Hatari realizes their presence at Eurovision is sparking a polarizing debate across Europe, and the anxiety zooms to an all time high.

This is where we get into the core debate born from this film: should artists be expected to use their platforms for social justice? Should the stage double as a place for rebellion? How far do we expect artists to ‘walk the walk’ when their lyrics confront them in reality? While this is debated, Hatari struggles with planning the right action at the right time to make the right statement. They meet with several artists across different mediums to brainstorm a way to show their support of freeing Palestine from Israeli occupation without being stopped or arrested. The tensions take a toll on the band as they are warned to cooperate but begged to revolt, particularly by new found Palestinian friend Bashar Murad.

Amidst the pressure of the contest and taking a stand, the two frontmen of Hatari, Matthías and Klemens, work on a new song and music video with Bashar during the week leading up to the performance. The cinematography is breathtaking, bringing to life the juxtaposition between the expansive landscape and the encaged occupation just a few miles away.

The day of the show arrives, and one by one plans start to unravel. Collaborators and allies succumb to the pressure of the occupation and deem Hatari a risk to their own safety and autonomy, including Trash, a local fashion designer whose previous offer to provide costumes for the performance is revoked at the last second. Hatari pushes on while pushing everyone to the edge of their seat as the band takes the stage.

This suddenly timely film (for the US) encompasses the power of politics and capitalism in the modern world while exposing how fragile that power really is. Anne Hildur delivers an intimate portrayal of a small band from Iceland discovering what it takes to stand up against hate in a system, and ultimately realizing that even the smallest of retaliations can make an impact.

Watch the trailer for A Song Called Hate.

Where to watch: Facebook

Alyssa Stormes is a filmmaker, performer, and visual artist based in Minneapolis. She has a degree in Film from the University of Iowa, and over 10+ years critiquing and creating visual storytelling. Learn more about Alyssa here.


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