A documentarian is frequently at the mercy of his or her subject. A project may seem exciting stuff, only to reveal itself a yawn upon further investigation. Luckily, for filmmakers Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck, the opposite is true here. Lucky for the audience, too.

At the height of their success, as the cameras were rolling on a documentary about their current world tour, and George W. Bush was laying out plans to invade Iraq, the Dixie Chicks' lead singer Natalie Maines told a London audience that she was ashamed to be from the same state as her president. It was a statement warmly greeted by the British crowd to which it was made, but one which triggered a career-debilitating controversy back in America (particularly amongst their red-state fan base). This controversy, the band's and its handlers' attempts to control it, and ultimately their acceptance of it, becomes the narrative focus of Kopple and Peck's Shut Up & Sing, which greatly benefits from the drama. Kopple and Peck allow Maines and her girls to turn what might have been a fluff piece on the Dixie Chicks' moving from triumph to triumph into an intriguing study of what happens when a person puts their foot in their mouth and receives a national boot in the bum for doing so.

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