”Most art projects are basically jokes gone too far,” says Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson at the beginning of A Song Called Hate. And it does seem like a joke. Anticapitalist BDSM performance art group Hatari representing Iceland in the Eurovision Song Contest? Soon the joke becomes reality, when Hatari rises from Iceland’s underground scene and is chosen to represent their country. Their journey towards the 2019 Eurovision begins.
A Song Called Hate is a juicy documentary, in which first-time director Anna Hildur closely follows Hatari’s Eurovision experience – and their attempts to protest the Israel-set contest. Instead of boycotting, Hatari wishes to make their voices heard from within.
In Israel, Hatari members, lead by singers and cousins Klemens and Matthías, get to see glimpses of the everyday reality in the areas of conflict. Trips to Palestine and meetings with local musicians only strengthen their will to protest. At the same time, the massive organisation behind Eurovision strives to make protesting impossible for them.
Unravelling like a thriller, the documentary entertains and makes points about protesting through art and artists’ responsibility to take a stand. Do the intentions behind art matter? Artists and music documentarists Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard (20 000 Days on Earth) worked behind the scenes as executive producers. A Song Called Hate takes you behind the shiny facade of Eurovision fever – and brings joy after a Eurovision-less year.