ITHACA, NY — The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival (FLEFF) and Cinemapolis will present a limited engagement of “Anvil: The Story of Anvil,” the documentary of a Canadian heavy metal band that never made it during the 1980s but is now playing to packed venues, thanks in large part to this film. The first showing of “Anvil” will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 31, at Cinemapolis’s new location at 120 E. Green St. Admission is $9; tickets for seniors (64 and older) and children (12 and under) are $8.50. The screening will be followed by a discussion featuring Tom Shevory, faculty co-director of FLEFF, professor of politics and keyboard player and vocalist with Teacher's Lounge. For more information on the screening, visit www.cinemapolis.org.
Anvil traces its roots back to 1973, when high school friends Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner began playing music together. Kudlow played lead guitar and did the vocals; Reiner was the drummer. The band was officially launched three years later. Despite 13 albums — one of which cracked the Billboard 200 — and signing a contract with Aerosmith manager David Krebs, Anvil never reached the heights of Anthrax, Metallica or other heavy metal groups.
Kudlow and Reiner, though, never gave up, accepting menial jobs to make ends meet while continuing to tour together and record. They’d be doing that still, in utter obscurity, had not screenwriter Sacha Gervasi, who co-wrote the script to Steven Spielberg’s “The Terminal,” gone backstage after an Anvil concert in 1982. Gervasi simply wanted to tell the band members how much he’d enjoyed their show, but the visit led to Gervasi being added to the band’s entourage as a drum roadie. During summer vacations over the next three years, Gervasi toured the world with his favorite group.
Gervasi left the group in 1985. Twenty years later, while sitting on a beach and listening to Metallica, he suddenly wondered whatever happened to his old road chums. After an online search, he discovered Kudlow and Reiner never quit. They were still playing with Anvil. Sharing his reaction with a reviewer, Gervasi said, “How is it possible that they didn’t make it and they didn’t kill each other?”
Putting up his own money to make “Anvil,” Gervasi started shooting his documentary in 2005. Featuring interviews with Lars Ulrich of Metallica, Slash of Guns N’Roses, and other musicians who were influenced by Anvil, Gervasi’s film follows Kudlow, Reiner and their band mates on a not-so-sentimental journey that features its share of disasters, including a European concert performed to an audience of 175 in a venue that seated 10,000.
The resemblance to the 1984 spoof “This Is Spinal Tap” is inevitable, (especially since the director of that mockumentary was Rob Reiner, who spells his name with one “B”), but Gervasi’s not worried about it. “We’re going to . . . encourage the audience to believe that this is a jovial romp a la ‘Spinal Tap.’ And then when it changes gears, [everyone’s] going to be crying over the same people they were laughing at 40 minutes before.”
“Anvil: The Story of Anvil” premiered at the Sundance film festival in 2008 and won Audience Awards at the 2008 Sydney, Los Angeles and Galway International Film Festivals. As a result of the attention garnered from the film, Anvil is back in the public consciousness. In addition to playing at several festivals, including the Download Festival 2009, Anvil will open for AC/DC at that group’s summer Black Ice World Tour.
Launched in 1997 as an outreach project sponsored by Ithaca College, Cornell University’s Center for the Environment and Einaudi Center for International Studies and others, FLEFF is now under the auspices of the Ithaca College Division of Interdisciplinary and International Studies. FLEFF has become a major regional event in upstate New York and enjoys an international reputation as a cutting-edge, multi-arts program.
For more information, contact FLEFF faculty co-director Patricia Zimmermann, professor of cinema, photography, and media arts, at (607) 274-3431 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published in News Releases: Coming Soon To Cinemapolis: The Warm And Fuzzy Story Of A Heavy Metal Band.