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Black Metal – by Kat Candler

The lead singer of a black metal band dealing with guilt and sorrow: if an artist's work is used for unintended purposes, is the artist partially responsible?

2013 | 5 - 10 | Art | Drama | Live-Action | USA

When metal is linked with crime. The West Memphis Three — Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley — were on local police’s radar, in part, because they listened to Metallica. Drowning Pool’s song Bodies served as the soundtrack to a double murder in Oakton and then in Tuczon, Arizona. On Dec. 23, 1985, two guys ended a night of drinking, drugs, and listening to Judas Priest’s Stained Class album by heading to a local playground and shooting themselves. Ozzy Osbourne was accused of driving a fan to suicide with his song Suicide Solution. And so on.

Black Metal is a dark drama that follows a man struggling with the guilt and blame of a tragic and senseless murder. Ian (Jonny Mars) is the mid 30s lead singer of a black metal band. A husband, father and musician. When a teen murders his math teacher and it’s linked to his band, he has to re-evaluate the two things he loves most, his music and his family.

Premiered at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival and crowd-funded via Indiegogo, this compelling short is directed by Kat Candler, who also helmed a feature-length version of her earlier short Hellion (starring Aaron Paul and Juliette Lewis) and the psychological thriller short The Rusted (starring The Hunger Games’ Josh Hutcherson and Jena Malone) as part of Canon and Ron Howard’s Project Imagination.

Black Metal was originally envisioned as a feature film, before the director turned it into a short. The potential is so terrific that it’s easy to think about it as a feature – and its open-end suggests it. Well acted, simple written and powerfully shot, with cinematographer Andrew Droz Palermo’s background in music videos and production designer Yvonne Boudreaux, Candler scores a humanistic and compassionate reflection about man’s guilt, loss of innocence, responsibility in relation to art, and stage versus reality off stage.

“I was curious about the idea of artist’s guilt. How what we put out into the world comes back through audience interpretation and reaction. And how we internalize that reaction,” the director explained. “I looked at A Clockwork Orange a lot and how it was pulled from theaters in England after a series of copy cats. The whole Judas Priest case. I did a bunch of research into bands, movies… My stance is that responsibility lies with whoever holds the gun or the knife, but inevitably as a human being it’s hard to shake a feeling of guilt,” she added speaking to Revolver Magazine.

The score includes songs by Vesperian Sorrow, Horned Almighty, and Pallbearer.

Alessandro Zoppo

Alessandro Zoppo

Editor-in-Chief @ Good Short Films

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