Skip to main content

TWIST

Canada, 1992 (MIFF 1993, Documentaries)

Director: Ron Mann

It was the dance that changed a generation. Never before had white America played so loose with its body. Coming along right when rock and roll needed a new jolt, the Twist fast became an international phenomenon, and the bell tolled, signaling the end of America's WASP reserve. It was scary.

Ron Mann (Comic Book Confidential) brings us his new feature documentary, Twist, which captures the whole mad whirl of the era. In a fast-paced mix of interviews and rare archival footage, this film brings back all the lewd fun of the dance. From Harlem dance parties to Dick Clark's American Bandstand to celebrity hijinxs at the Peppermint Lounge, Twist makes it pretty clear that no corner of society escaped the infectious groove of the dance. Taking America by storm right in the middle of the Cold War, proper folks all across the continent denounced it as a corrupting and possibly communist influence. And that's not the only controversy.

Everyone knows Chubby Checker as the man behind the Twist but his fame came at the expense of Hank Ballard and the Midnighters, who recorded the song shortly beforeChecker's version hit the charts. The difference between what each got out of the Twist craze - Checker got stardom, Ballard zip - highlights another of Mann's concerns. Not only was the Twist a turning point in American youth culture, it also pointed to the way the white music industry so often raided African American culture for new styles.

Mann roots Ballard's song in a whole history of risque rhythm and blues records and traces its movement toward hula-hoop status! As full of insights as it is of music and hip-shaking fun, Twist is a delight.

See also...

GO FURTHER

Go Further Canada'Dubbed 'The next Bowling For Columbine' at last year's Toronto Film Festival. A much needed dose of levity for the eco-movement, Ron Mann's (Twist, MIFF 1993; Grass MIFF 2000) road ... More »

GRASS

Ron Mann's long overdue project is an hilarious and illuminating film about one of the most controversial drugs of the twentieth century—marijuana. Weed activist Woody Harrelson narrates this ... More »

STEPPING RAZOR - RED X

From his beginnings in the late sixties with Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer in the Wailers, through his stormy vault to stardom as the leader of a reggae movement that swept the world in the 1970s, to ... More »

BLAST ‘EM

... ... Paparazzo-photographer Victor Malafronte's philosophy is simple: "I don't have any sympathy for a guy who's making $20-30 mil­lion a year." Chasing Madonna, ambushing Michael J. Fox ... More »

FORBIDDEN LOVE: THE UNASHAMED STORIES OF LESBIAN LIVES

'Venus of Lesbos: Theirs was a passion no man could share'. 'Man Hater: They hid their claws under nail polish'. 'Lesbians in Black Lace: They were twilight girls, black nylon lovers'. 'Girls ... More »

A KIND OF FAMILY

... ... Glen Murray is a city councillor in Win­nipeg. He's a popular community figure, a tireless worker for charities and a highly-respected gay role model. He lives his life in a hurry; 15 of ... More »

Select a festival
Search The Film Archive
Browse By Director