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SXSW Review: ‘I Get Knocked Down’

March 11, 2022Ben MK

We live in a world where social injustice, political corruption and corporate malfeasance are an unfortunate fact of life. But for almost as long as these problems have plagued our society, there have also been those whose activism for what is right and just have helped give a voice to those who have been unfairly victimized. From the suffragette movement to Black Lives Matter, likeminded people have always found a way to join together in unison to fight for truth, justice and equality. Yet, despite all the marches, rallies and protests the world has seen, has anything really changed?

That's the question troubling 59-year-old Dunstan Bruce. The former lead singer and founder of the anarcho-pop band Chumbawamba — best known for their '90s hit "Tubthumping" — Bruce has spent the better part of the last four decades fighting the good fight the only way he knew how, by writing songs and using his platform as a musician to spread public awareness for causes he and his bandmates believed in. Now that he's looking back on his music career, however, he can't help but wonder — did anything they did make a difference? To find out, Bruce will take viewers back to 1980s Leeds, England, revisiting Chumbawamba's punk roots, reconnecting with the rest of the band, and reminiscing about their various successes and failures. Ultimately, though, it's not validation he's after, but rather a better understanding about how activism has evolved in the 21st century, and how people from his generation can still remain relevant and do their part in today's upside-down world.

A joint directorial effort from Sophie Robinson and Bruce himself, the result paints a portrait of a band some might consider a one-hit wonder, but whose contributions actually extend beyond far your average chart-topper. More importantly, I Get Knocked Down is a reminder that you don't always need an army of followers to change the world. Sometimes, all it takes is a microphone, a couple of your best mates and a song.

I Get Knocked Down screens under the 24 Beats Per Second section at the 2022 South by Southwest Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 28 min.

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