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SXSW: Drafthouse Picks Up North American Rights to Rock Doc 'A Band Called Death'

Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino’s film chronicles the rebirth of the '70s African-American proto-punk trio Death.

A Band Called Death Still SXSW - H 2013

Drafthouse Films has acquired North American rights to Jeff Howlett and Mark Covino’s rockumentary A Band Called Death, which is set to screen at the SXSW Film Festival in the “24 Beats Per Second” film category.

The film chronicles the rebirth and rise to cult stardom of early '70s African-American proto-punk trio Death, following a new generation’s discovery of an obscure demo tape that is more than 30 years old. Drafthouse, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is planning a theatrical and VOD release in the summer.

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Before Bad Brains, the Sex Pistols and the Ramones, there was Death. Formed in 1971 by three teenage brothers in Detroit, the group is widely acknowledged as being one of the first punk bands. After years of struggling with canceled contracts, increasing debts, family tragedy and a controversial name, Death sold off their instruments and disbanded, with their recordings lying dormant in an attic for decades. But rabid Internet fans and record collectors sparked renewed appreciation and media attention.

The film bowed at the 2012 Los Angeles Film Festival. THR film critic Justin Lowe said it is "a moving testament to the enduring power of family ties and groundbreaking music."

"Howlett and Covino’s film rewrites punk history and also transforms a better-than-fiction music story into a moving, emotional story," Drafthouse creative director Evan Husney said. "And we are thrilled to be introducing the legacy of Death to audiences around the country."

Added producer Matthew Perniciaro: "I attended my first screening at the original Alamo Drafthouse more than 10 years ago and am very excited all these years later to be working with Drafthouse Films."

A Band Called Death is a Haven Entertainment and OGB production in association with Howlermano Prods. Haven's Kevin Mann, OGB's Scott Mosier and Jerry Ferrara also produced.

Cinetic Media's Linzee Troubh repped the filmmakers. James Emanuel Shapiro negotiated on behalf of Drafthouse.

Email: Tatiana.Siegel@THR.com, Twitter: @TatianaSiegel27