SIFF “Face the Music” preview: The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Belle and Bell Gingham

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls
directed by Leanne Pooley
(NZ, 84 minutes)

Festival Screenings:

May 30, 2010 7:00 PM, Egyptian Theatre
May 30, 2010 7:00 PM, Egyptian Theatre

Director Leanne Pooley easily side-steps what could be a kitschey look at New Zealand national treasures The Topp Twins in her documentary about the world’s only comedic, yodeling, country-folk singing, lesbian twin sisters.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls chronicles Jools and Lynda Topp’s long and unique career as buskers, political activists, and television stars. Their amazing life story is told through a live performance that is speckled with interviews (often in their beloved and bawdy TV characters such as Ken & Ken, Camp Mother and Camp Leader) that share stories of the Twins’ personal lives and their secret to winning over audiences around the world.

The Topp Twins as Camp Mother & Camp Leader from their popular TV Show

The Topp Twins as Camp Mother & Camp Leader from their popular TV Show

Whatever your thoughts on lesbians, twins, or yodelers are, The Topp Twins are genuinely funny. One of my favorite accounts is when Jools went to a strip club dressed as Ken and was invited to share a table with a group of rowdy guys and she spent the next few hours drinking and ogling the girls with them all the while not knowing if they knew she was really a girl or if they thought it was cool to be hanging out with Ken!

There’s something magical in the genetically perfect harmonies of siblings and you find yourself drawn to their music even if you have never considered yourself a fan of country western, yodeling, or folk music. Their song which inspired the title of the film has been bouncing around in my head for days and it’s easy to see why their music was so effective in their political activism as well as their comedy. Their act appeals to such broad audiences as sheep farmers, rugby players, and even high society folks all of whom were often the basis for the characters that made the Topps such a part of New Zealand popular culture. They were the champions of the marginalized that became part of the mainstream.

It goes without saying that we don’t have anything like them here in the states but fans of hipster-approved and fellow Kiwi-imports, Flight of the Conchords will definitely find this film charming. Part live performance, comedy, documentary, and biopic, The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls is worth checking out. Lynda and Jools will both be in attendance at the screenings.

Here’s the trailer for Untouchable Girls:

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