In May, director Brett Morgen joined us to talk about his Kurt Cobain documentary, Montage of Heck. Cobain's widow, Courtney Love, had approached Morgen to do the project and gave him access to journals and tapes belonging to Cobain.
Love was happy with Montage of Heck, but not so much with Soaked in Bleach -- a very different documentary about Nirvana frontman. She says the film portrays her in a false light and her lawyers are trying prevent theaters from showing it.
Directed by first time filmmaker Benjamin Statler, Soaked in Bleach uses interviews with investigators and experts as well as re-enactments to explore the events surrounding Cobain's 1994 death from a shotgun blast. The singer was also found to have a massive amount of heroin in his system. Seattle police quickly ruled it a suicide.
One of Statler's main sources in the film is Tom Grant, a cop-turned-private detective who was hired by Courtney Love more than 20 years ago to find her missing husband.
As soon as Grant started working for Love, he became suspicious and began recording their interactions. Having come to doubt that Cobain committed suicide, he long ago made those tapes available online. When Statler first stumbled upon those recordings on Tom Grant's website, he thought someone should do a movie about the events surrounding Cobain's death. As the years passed, he was shocked that no one ever did.
When he finally set out to make his own film, he started to figure out why. Many people told him to stay away from the topic altogether. When he couldn't get a financial backer for the film, he funded it himself. While the film got decent distribution in Europe, theaters in the US have been less eager to pick it up. He ended up doing a day and date release with Vimeo.
In addition to forensic and homicide experts, Soaked in Bleach features an interview with Norm Stamper, the chief of police in Seattle at the time of Cobain's death. In the film, Stamper says, "If I were the chief today, I would re-open this investigation."
Statler told us that even if he never makes any of his money back on the film, if he can get others to agree with Stamper and reopen the case, it will have all been worth it.