Shout Factory reaches Nirvana

Cobain docu uses singer's own words, narration

Smells like teen spirit. Independent DVD supplier Shout Factory, known for its eclectic retro pop culture offerings, has acquired home entertainment rights to "Kurt Cobain About a Son," the impressionistic documentary about the late leader of Nirvana and de facto founder of the grunge-rock phenomenon of the early 1990s.

The 2006 production, screened at film festivals worldwide and nominated for a 2007 Independent Spirit Award, consists entirely of excerpts from interview tapes Cobain made before his April 1994 suicide. It will be released on DVD in February, timed to coincide with what would have been Cobain's 40th birthday. The docu is slated to open theatrically nationwide in October.

"Not since the late 1960s and early 1970s has there been a musical artist who so completely spoke for an entire generation," Shout Factory COO Bob Emmer said. "After the breakup of the Beatles and the tragic deaths of Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin, there were few music icons left of their magnitude — until the meteoric success of Nirvana and their breakthrough 'Nevermind,' and, subsequently, Kurt's pointless death only three years later. … Kurt became the rock icon for the end of the 20th century, and he remains so for today's youth."

"About a Son," directed and edited by A.J. Schnack, is based on 25 hours of previously unreleased audio interviews conducted with Cobain by Michael Azerrad for his book, "Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana." Azerrad is co-producer of the film. The visuals consist mostly of current shots of the three Washington state locations where Cobain lived. The film also includes black-and-white grunge scene photos by Charles Peterson and the music of Bad Brains, Butthole Surfers, David Bowie, Cheap Trick, Iggy Pop, Leadbelly and others.

Emmer said he screened the film during the South by Southwest Film Festival and "was mesmerized. I definitely wanted to be involved. This film has a unique style and texture that provides great insight into this artist and rock icon. Unlike other docu-features, this is Kurt Cobain's story, narrated by Kurt in his own words."

In the film, Cobain recounts his own life, from his childhood (happy, until his parents divorced) to his struggles as an adolescent ranging from manic depression to chronic stomach pain. Cobain also talks about his own musical discovery and lends a voice to the growth and development of the celebrated grunge movement that also spawned bands like Pearl Jam and Soundgarden.

"The legacy of Kurt and the music of Nirvana is reminiscent of the legendary days of rock 'n' roll toward the close of the 1960s and into the '70s," Emmer said. "Interestingly enough, Kurt Cobain is one of the most Googled rock icons today. His music is still so important to so many people. It's hard to imagine the musical landscape without the contribution of Kurt Cobain."
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