Park City 98: “Kurt and Courtney” Makes Long Awaited Debut
by Eugene Hernandez
A select group of distributors, invited guests, and press gathered in the Park City Elks building on Main Street shortly after midnight early this morning for a hastily scheduled screening of the recently canceled Sundance documentary, “Kurt and Courtney.” Rumors of a showing, ultimately billed as part of the alternative “Slamdunk” film festival, reached fever pitch yesterday afternoon with many speculating that a special Slamdance screening was in the works (discussions between Broomfield and Slamdance began shortly after Sundance pulled the movie). Yet, contradicting the filmmaker’s comments yesterday that he had been approached by Slamdance, the festival’s organizers assured indieWIRE that the reverse was true and that the film would by no means screen at Slamdance. According to a Slamdance representative, the filmmaker had never submitted the movie to the festival and such a screening would overshadow the other movies unspooling at the week-long event.
Broomfield and his representatives met with organizers of “Slamdunk” and worked out an arrangement to show the film. A crowd began forming outside the Elks Building after 11 p.m., and as word spread across the street to the IFC party, a larger group gathered. Security guards positioned themselves at the base of the stairs and screening organizers began slowly admitting individuals. Passersby joined the mob on the sidewalk (one even asked earnestly, “What party is this?”). It quickly became quite clear that this was by no means a “Slamdunk” Film Festival screening — the list of attendees was controlled entirely by Broomfield’s representatives and Slamdunk organizers were allowed to admit only a small group of friends. Among the guests who made their way in were: Vince Gallo, Sofia Coppola, Spike Jonze, Darryl Hannah, Sarah Jacobson, Christine Choi, Sara Gilbert, Andrea Sperling, Jamie Babbitt, and Marina Zenovitch, as well as key media representatives David Ansen and Jeffrey Wells, among others. A surprise guest who was rumored to have “snuck in” was Janet Billig, a representative for Courtney Love. A handful of others used the room’s alley entrance and quickly scurried into seats, unnoticed.
“I want to welcome you all to the Elks Lodge,” Nick Broomfield began dryly, eliciting a cheer from the enthusiastic audience. The filmmaker explained that the new 35mm print included a few cuts from music sections — a reaction to the apparent legal issues which ultimately doomed the movie’s Sundance premiere. Through interviews with a motley cast of characters, the film introduces and explores the notion that Kurt Cobain was murdered and positions the rocker’s late wife, Courtney Love, as a key figure in the mystery. The early part of the movie digs into Cobain and Love’s childhood years, their personalities, and their lifestyles and then it transitions into an exploration of the more widely cited conspiracy theories — from Cobain’s confusing best friend, to a frightening would-be assassin, and a scared ex-family nanny. By the film’s climax, Broomfield has himself become a central character in this tabloid story. Afterwards, Broomfield told indieWIRE that after seeing the print for the first time, he hopes to have another screening soon.