Films & Schedules

  • Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary

  • Jamie Jay Johnson

United Kingdom
English, Flemish, Bulgarian, Georgian, Cypriot Greek
100 minutes

Production Company:
Number 9 Films
Executive Producer:
Paul White, Simon Fawcett, Jess Search, Maxyne Franklin
Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley
Jamie Jay Johnson
Lucien Clayton
Mat Davidson

International Sales Agent:
Intandem Films

TIFF Tags: Documentary 

Tuesday September 0909:15PM AMC 2 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Thursday September 1102:15PM VARSITY 7 Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist
Friday September 1206:45PM AMC 10 Best Bet Add Film to MyTIFF Filmlist

Following the overwhelming success of the Eurovision Song Contest, a junior version was recently spun off. The rules are similar: national finals lead to the big night, when all the European contestants come together on a live television show judged by representatives from each participating country. There is one key difference, however, as the junior entrants must pen all of the songs they sing themselves!

This engrossing documentary follows the 2007 competition. In the first part of Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary, we are introduced to a bevy of groups and individuals preparing for the Belgian finals. The film then tracks a number of finalists from other countries prior to their arrival in Rotterdam for the European finals. The second half of the film shows the lead-up to the finals, the event itself and the aftermath. At the end of the day, there will be only one winner, so this is very much a film about hopes and dreams, hard work and dedication – culminating in a certain sense that life and music careers are as much about overcoming setbacks as being discovered and winning instant fame.

The teenaged participants are at the core of Sounds Like Teen Spirit and like all those documentaries that deal with groups of young people – Hoop Dreams and Spellbound come to mind – this film reveals the amazing creativity, imagination, resilience and – dare I say it? – maturity of a group of very talented and very young individuals.

Along the way, there are many unexpected twists and turns. We start off at the Belgian finals, where one contestant looks like a potential winner. As we are carried on this journey, we are exposed to a wide variety of attitudes, songs, musicians, styles and costumes, all packaged together in a manner meant to attract attention and, frankly, beat the other countries. Some of the contestants are natural performers, while others have a knack for revealing their intimate thoughts on camera and offering surprising insights into what it is like to be a teenager participating in such a competition. Director Jamie Jay Johnson juggles innumerable storylines in this behind-the-scenes look at one of Europe's most popular television contests.

Piers Handing

Jamie Jay Johnson was born in London, England. He received a B.A. from the Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design and an M.A. at the National Film and Television School. He has been nominated for numerous awards for his television documentaries. Sounds Like Teen Spirit: A Popumentary (08) is his debut feature documentary.

Cadillac People's Choice Award