Yesterday, I managed to see the fantastic documentary, Welcome to Deathfest, at a screening at San Francisco’s Noise Pop festival.
The movie gives a fascinating look into how Maryland Deathfest is put together every year. It’s really fascinating to see all the elements that go into making the festival happen, and how many different tasks are managed by a tiny team of people. And as someone whose first Deathfest was just last year, I found that the movie gave a lot of insight into many of the problems that plagued the 2013 festival and have now passed into community lore. If you want the real scoop on the problems with the Paparazzi Club, why the festival pulled the plug on Venom, or whether Phil Anselmo is really a dick about people wearing spikes (short answer: no), watch this film. I was very glad that the filmmakers were able to include a short section at the end of the film showing how much better things went in 2014, because wow, things were so much better in 2014 when I went. Which left me all the more impressed with the organizers. You can’t really expect people to never make mistakes – but people who make mistakes, learn from them, and do better the next time around are unfortunately rare.
This is also a great film to show to your friends or loved ones who aren’t part of the extreme metal scene but are curious about it. I took my husband along to the screening. He listens to a bit of metal (generally power metal and symphonic metal), but he’s really not into death or black metal or music festivals (seeing as he dislikes crowds, standing in the hot sun, and having other people’s beer spilled on him). He really enjoyed getting a glimpse into this strange world from the comfort of a film screening.
After the screening, there was a Q&A with the filmmakers, Alicia Lozano and Tom Grahsler. It’s really obvious that they love metal and love Deathfest, and would love to see them do more documentary work like this.
One of the things that did come up in the Q&A is that they are trying to get DVD and/or streaming distribution for this film so that more people can see it. In the meantime, your best bet is probably to hope that it comes to a film or music festival in your area. Keep an eye on the movie’s Facebook page for announcements: https://www.facebook.com/welcometodeathfest
And check out the trailer on Vimeo: