Happy Rock Documentary of 2008″Anvil! The Story of Anvil” — which dramatically changed the band’s fortunes and arguably changed the game for Oscar-winning music documentation — returns to theaters 13 years after its initial release.
Director and former teenage Anvil roadie Sacha Gervasi’s intimate look at the tribulations of the never-say-die Canadian metal band eventually led to the film winning a 2010 Emmy Award for Outstanding Programming in the Arts and cultures. Other awards include the 2010 Independent Spirit Award for Best Documentary and the Audience Award for Best Film at the Dublin International Film Festival (2009). It ranked sixth as one of the highest-rated documentaries of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, with a 98% recent critic rating and a 90% audience score with more votes.
Despite universal recognition, “He wasn’t even on the Academy Award longlist,” says Gervais. “There was a lot of ‘wait, what the hell happened?’ The selection procedure at that time in the documentary industry was very specific. Basically, one 78-year-old guy [Academy voter] saw [singer/guitarist Steve Kudlow] Lips, who played a Flying V guitar with a dildo at the beginning of the film, stopped watching, removed the film from the list, and he did not continue another round, he claims.
In 2009, Indie Wire reported that 89 documentaries had qualified for the 82nd Academy Awards, and “notable omissions included Anvil! The Anvil Story, as well as The September Issue, It Can Get Loud and Michael Moore’s Capitalism: A Love Story.
Gervasi, who has since directed 2012’s Hitchcock and 2018’s My Lunch with Hervé, says it was the massive support for the film that opened the door for musical documentaries about inspiring little-known people. “After all, there were so many fans of ‘Anvil!’ who felt it was unfair that the film wasn’t longlisted, let alone shortlisted, that the backlash, at least from what I heard, forced them to change the rules.
“We had a lot of love,” the director recalls. “I remember one distributor walking out in tears and saying, ‘I love your movie, but I have no idea how to sell it.’ It’s not commercially viable.”
In 2013, “In Search of Sugar Man” won an Oscar. [for best documentary feature], the producer called me the next day to thank me. He said because “Anvil!” fell on his sword basically, within five years or so there was this change in the rules.”
In 2014, 20 Feet From Star, a film about the lives of backup singers, won best doc. The 2015 Emmys won the same laurel, and the following years have seen streaming services hit Laurel Canyon, The Velvet Underground, Fanny, Show Me a Photo: The Jim Marshall Story, and a host of others. non-core music documents swamp screens and get praise.
In an interview before the screening of the film “Anvil!” On Sept. 13 in New York, hosted by actor Peter Dinklage and featuring Kudlow and drummer Rob Reiner, Gervasi spoke about the serendipitous trajectory of the initial spark and subsequent re-release of the film.
After losing track of his 1980s Anvil friends, he resurfaced in 2005. “I discovered that Anvil had made nine or 10 albums that I had never heard of. And they just played in a pub in Quebec in front of, like, 100 people.” He flew from Kudlow to visit Malibu. “I picked him up at the airport and he was wearing the same Scorpions shirt as the last time I saw him, literally. Nothing has changed.”
The singer presented Gervasius with plans for the next Anvil album. “He’s so excited. He still believes,” the director recalls. “At first I was like, ‘God, this is really sad.’ But by the end of the weekend, I just said, “I like the spirit – even if it’s gone to shit – to not give up.”
A subsequent presentation and lunch with the group at the Toronto Film Festival with producer and friend Rebecca Yeldham resulted in her saying, “I hate heavy metal. But I love this story.” More than a decade after producing “Anvil!” it was her son (and Gervasio’s godson) Ria Hanson who started watching the film with his teenage friends. They became obsessed, which led to the idea of bringing the film to theaters for a new generation.
Other fans include Jimmy Page, Paul McCartney and Keanu Reeves, who introduced the film at the London screening. Cameron Crowe, Ryan Gosling and John Mayer are also fans. Dustin Hoffman saw “The Anvil!” many times at Nuart in Los Angeles. (When Kudlow and Reiner met with Hoffman, after speaking with the actor for a while, they asked Gervasi, “He’s a Papillion guy, right?”) NY Q&A moderator Dinklage noted that Gervasi and the band shared that quality. , as “loyalty and perseverance.” .”
Unhindered access to a theme is something that every document producer wants, but rarely gets. But Anvil confided in Gervasi, who told them the film had to be funny — “because, by the way, they’re pretty damn funny,” he says. He explained that if the film was successful, “the audience will be laughing at you guys in the first 15 minutes. But there’s a big twist at the end.” Anvil’s story “shows the reality of life for most musicians,” Gervasi says, “because the 0.1% make it and the rest don’t, and either they give up or they become quote-smart.”
Neither sane nor abandoned, Anvil and the film’s message of “Hope Begets Eternal” earned a standing ovation at the New York screening. Afterward, Kudlow reflected on the hard-earned luxury of quitting his day job in school meals — after 50 years — to pursue his musical passion.
Starting with “Anvil!”, the band has opened for AC/DC, earned the love of superstars from Metallica to Slash of Guns N’ Roses, and has been living the life they’ve been dreaming of since the late ’70s. The 66-year-old Kudlow, endlessly bubbly and emotional, says he found it difficult to watch Anvil’s difficult life on the big screen. But now the frontman concludes: “No more crappy day jobs. I have endless busyness until I want to do it.’
Utopia Releases Remastered “Anvil! The Anvil Story’ with Portobello Electric in theaters on September 27. The Los Angeles premiere will take place on September 22nd at the Saban Theater with a live concert by Anville and a Q&A with Kudlow, Robb, Yeldham and Gervasi, moderated by Steve O of The Madman.