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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Yaffe

Jane Austen meets Spinal Tap

Readers of my book Among the Janeites will recall that one of its protagonists, English professor Devoney Looser, has a not-so-secret second life skating roller derby under the name Stone Cold Jane Austen.

I guess she should have trademarked that witty mashup of pro wrestling and classic fiction*, because now she’s going to have to share it with a band. Not a real band, but still.

On Monday, a South African film titled Stone Cold Jane Austen will be shown in Cannes – not as part of the world-famous, oh-so-arty competition, but during the Marché du Film session, where movies in search of distributors are shown to folks in the film business.

As far as I can tell, Stone Cold Jane Austen is a Spinal Tap-type mockumentary financed largely via crowdfunding. According to the movie’s web site, it’s “a comedy about an English rock band from South Africa trying to break in to the profitable Afrikaans music market. . . without even being able to speak the language.”

I heard no references to Jane Austen in the YouTube trailer, so I suspect that her name alone is supposed to be the joke. You know the drill: “Jane Austen” allegedly evokes all things girly, prissy, flowery, genteel and tea-sipping, which is so different from what we think of when we think of a rock band that hilarity must ensue.

You may have gathered that the trailer didn’t strike me as promising. But if you’re intrigued, it looks like you can order up a DVD or a download, even if the Cannes distributors don’t bite.

* Actually, Devoney wasn’t the first roller derby participant to choose that name. A skater in Liverpool, England, beat her to it, so if the two of them ever end up in the same bout, Devoney would have to defer to her predecessor.


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