With 30 million albums sold, the Dixie Chicks were the most successful women's band of all time. Until March 2003, that is, when – with the Iraq War already looming – lead singer Natalie Maines commited a cardinal error: During a gig in London, she let it be known that she was ashamed that President George W. Bush also came from Texas, the Dixie Chicks' home state. A basically off-the-cuff remark rapidly became a political scandal in the USA, leading to a regular witch-hunt on the three women: Radio stations banned their songs from their playlists; "fans" destroyed their CDs and boycotted their concerts; the main sponsor withdrew from the tour; and the band received death threats. Here the two directors document over the space of three years how a personal opinion could mutate into political controversy and how a big-name C&W band could publicly be brandmarked as "traitors".
The documentary also shows how the three women, who initially attempted to back-pedal and qualify their comments, came together again in the face of the backlash and took to defending free speech. A chronicle of its time as well as a critique of media, culture and society, The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing offers a fascinating insight into the stage persona and private lives of three women musicians. The concert extracts are barnstorming! Ms Koppel's film Harlan County USA can be seen at this year's International Women's Film Festival Dortmund|Cologne in the Under Control section.
Barbara Kopple is a director and a producer of documentaries and feature films. She was born 1946 in New York and she studied clinical psychology at Northeastern University . Fame came with the documentary films of Harlan County USA (1976) and American Dream (1990), winning an Oscar for each.
Cecilia Peck, the daughter of screen legend Gregory Peck, was born 1958 in Los Angeles. A graduate of Princeton University, she works as actor, producer and director. As a co-producer with Barbara Kopple, she has made (in addition to The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing) two other documentaries – A Conversation with Gregory Peck (1999) and The Hamptons (2002), a four-hour series for TV.