Coming to Manchester’s Chapeltown Picture House this May is a brand new film festival dedicated to celebrating metal in all its forms. Spread across Friday 20 and Saturday 21 May, Mosh Film Fest is a headbangers paradise, featuring legendary docs, hardcore thrillers and dark-hearted dramas that explore the genre – and its many sub-genres – from all angles, culminating in a cine club night that takes advantage of the pounding cinema soundsystem.
Aesthetically speaking, metal makes for perfect cinematic fodder. Bands and audiences have long cultivated looks that tangle with horror imagery, bump up against the occult, and frighten parents the world over. Strobe-lit leather jackets, metal studs and a face full of make-up are as impactful in close-up as they are from the mosh pit – and that’s before we add the brutal lyrics and face-melting riffs to the soundtrack.
Aesthetically speaking, metal makes for perfect cinematic fodder.
Mosh Film Fest takes you backstage with some of the genre’s biggest legends with docs such as Murder in the Front Row: The San Francisco Bay Area Thrash Metal Story which features the likes of Metallica, Slayer and Megadeth explaining how their brand of metal came about in reaction to early 1980s MTV hard rock; and Penelope Spheeris’ iconic The Decline of Western Civilization Pt. 2: The Metal Years featuring Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Lemmy and more.
There’s room for fiction too, with a chance to catch the late Anton Yelchin’s superb turn in Jeremy Saulnier’s anti-nazi punk thriller Green Room which closes Friday’s screenings. From Iceland, Ragnar Bragason’s Malmhaus is a suitably dark dramatisation of the ghoulish Black Metal scene, while Deathgasm is a gory supernatural horror-comedy about a New Zealand metalhead adrift in a sea of jocks and cheerleaders.
As with any outsider music, it is the dedication of the communities that surround metal which sustain it. Mosh mix local and global perspectives, with ‘90s BBC doc In Bed with Chris Needham – about a teenage metalhead forming a band and getting a girlfriend – showing alongside Scream For Me Sarajevo which documents Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson and his band Skunkworks performance in the war torn city in 1994.
Similarly, Global Metal finds communities around the world and examines the role metal plays in helping likeminded people find each other, and their own form of self-expression. This follows The World According to Mosh – a selection of shorter pieces curated by the festival to show off the various intersections of identity, class, sexuality, religion, gender, race and culture that fall under metal’s gnarly umbrella.
The festival concludes on a high with an event that is part club night, part film screening. The Last Mosh is a free all metal party that turns up the volume on some of the best live performances ever captured on camera, with Manchester’s metalheads invited to close Mosh Film Festival in the only way appropriate – by moshing out.