Shut Up & Sing Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck

The Dixie Chicks couldn’t have planned it better. Back in 2003, America’s biggest selling musical act crumbled and became "an unlikely voice in the conservative heart of America” to supporters and "traitors,” "big mouths” and "bimbos” to their newly appointed millions of haters. Well, the joke was on everyone that gave up on Natalie, Emily and Martie because what went down on stage at Shepherds Bush Empire in London was a career-defining moment. Not only did it provide enough material to break from the constraints of "new country” and write their Grammy-sweeping album, it also gave them the ammunition to make this award-winning doc. Filmed over the course of three years, Shut Up & Sing is the story of the Dixie Chicks’ fall from the top of the pop world and their steep climb back up to reclaim their throne. Beginning with the infamous London gig, the film follows the massive snowballing of a harmless political jab that caused one of popular music’s biggest backlashes. Loving fans turned to publicly steamrolling the band’s CDs, radio stations irrationally banned their music, Toby Keith became a cherished nemesis and shockingly (or is that expectedly?), some redneck fanatics resorted to death threats. The timing couldn’t have been better for directors Kopple and Peck, as the Chicks lived a classic story of betrayal, adversity and courage that screamed to be depicted. They give you an all-access pass to the Chicks’ lives. From the devastating fallout and the band’s musical rebirth and remarkable comeback to intimate moments of life with their families and in the studio, Shut Up & Sing is a triumphant achievement that will appeal to anyone, whether you’re a fan or not. Unfortunately, the DVD release fails to live up to the film’s credit, skimping on the special features. A commentary by the Chicks or the directors would have been enjoyable, but even this careless absence cannot hamper such an uplifting experience. (Alliance Atlantis)