Courtney Love showed off cleavage, toned arms and a “Let It Bleed” tattoo, which comes from a 1969 Rolling Stones album, Sunday afternoon at the New York premiere of “Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck” at the Tribeca Film Festival. The first fully authorized documentary about her late husband, the lead singer, guitarist and songwriter of Generation X band Nirvana, screened to a sold-out house. Love also participated in a Q&A following the screening.
In 1994 at age 27, Cobain died of a self-inflicted shot to the head. Since then his life has been the stuff of legend and myth. Brett Morgen, the Oscar-nominated filmmaker of “Crossfire Hurricane,” which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Rolling Stones, and “The Kid Stays in the Picture,” about film producer Robert Evans, directed the documentary, a co-production of HBO Documentary Films and Universal Pictures International. It will air on HBO May 4, 2015.
The 50-year-old widow looked great and posed for photographs, but a publicist said she would not be talking to the press on the red carpet.
The documentary, which is executive produced by Cobain and Love’s only child, Frances Bean Cobain, was 20 months old when her father committed suicide. Love chose Morgen for the project because she admired his Robert Evans documentary.
Morgen had access to a treasure trove of items by the late rocker’s estate, including Cobain’s personal and family archives. Never-before-seen material in the doc includes artworks, photographs, journals and family photographs, along with first-person testimony from Cobain’s mother and sister and, of course, his widow.
“There were over 200 hours of unreleased music and audio, a vast array of art projects, countless hours of home movies and over 4,000 pages of writings, which together provided a new perspective on an influential and prolific artist who rarely revealed himself to the media,” Morgen said.
On the red carpet, I asked the director what surprised him most about the legendary rocker’s life as he was making the documentary. “I would have to say every day was a sense of discovery, and everything sort of felt new to me because I didn’t know Kurt in life. So I got to know him through primary sources through his art, and in a way, that’s the most intimate way to get to know someone.”
As for any big reveals, Morgen told me, “Honestly, everything was a surprise. The way Kurt presented himself in these sort of interactions with the media, he always felt a little uncomfortable, and so being able to access him through unfiltered media revealed” surprises.
The director added, “His voice changed. His look changed. Everything felt different. He was more romantic. He was more gentle.”
Courtney Love authorized the documentary, but it is not a collaborative work, the director insisted. “Courtney Love gave me the greatest gift any filmmaker can ever get, which is trust and respect.”
Love gave the director material she hadn’t looked at since Cobain’s death some 20 years earlier. “She allowed me to make the film I wanted to make and never saw it until it was finished, and even then, when it was screened at Sundance, and she saw it for the first time, to this day she has never asked for a single change. And to be honest, that totally took me by surprise. I was expecting the worse when I had to show it to her. And she’s courageous. I don’t know too many people that would put themselves in that position.”