Sheffield Doc/Fest Review: The Revenge of the Diva

As Andy Warhol so presciently opined, “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes”. In today’s fast-paced world, a celebrity is soon forgotten. Even if their fame has lasted for many years, as soon as they drop out of the spotlight memories rapidly begin to fade. To go from the front page to a nobody, in the blink of an eye, must take a huge mental toll. What happens when the music stops and how does a forgotten star re-emerge into the limelight?

Siv Wennberg has always been anti-establishment. The Swede came from nowhere to make her debut at the Royal Swedish Opera. She soon built up a reputation as one of the most famous singers in Scandinavia and, largely because she refused to conform to the gender norms of the period, acquired a reputation as being awkward or bolshie. Now, at the age of 72, she’s alone, virtually unknown and determined to make a comeback. Emelie Jönsson and Gustav Ahlgren’s new documentary, The Revenge of the Diva, follows her on the path to redemption.

The Revenge of the Diva is one of those unusual documentaries which comes without any fanfare yet surprises, charms and amuses. Siv is what you’d call a character and her propensity to speak her mind is like gold dust. Indominable is an understatement. Along with her, even stranger, champion, she sets out on a course which looks destined for failure and embarrassment. The Revenge of the Diva is a funny, thoughtful and oddball tale of determination and desperation.

The Revenge of the Diva screens again at Sheffield Doc/Fest on 11 June.

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