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Quebec Premiere
  • Iceland
  • 2013
  • 97 mins
  • DCP
  • Icelandic
  • English (subtitles)
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Official Selection, Toronto International Film Festival 2013

“An impeccably crafted and beautifully performed film, METALHEAD is a tiny gem very well worth seeking out” – Todd Brown, TWITCH

Can we ever overcome the experiences that define our childhood? METALHEAD offers up a searing interrogation of the tragedies that shape us, and the struggle to break free from our apparent destiny, set to a mix tape of Iron Maiden, Judas Priest and Venom, just to name a few.

Hera is in her early twenties, irrevocably at odds with the world — constantly on the brink of explosion, she rails, kicking and screaming, against her churchgoing parents and the strictures of life in a small Icelandic town where the best jobs are to be found at the local slaughterhouse. After witnessing the tragic, gruesome death of her older brother at the age of 12, Hera uses the world of heavy metal and her brother’s guitar as an escape from present-day reality, cranking her inherited cassette tapes to the max and doing her very best to destroy any semblance of rural tranquility that surrounds her. The arrival of a young priest and a proposal by her devoted childhood sweetheart force Hera to examine her life and the ways in which her music can become her future instead of a destructive tool to cling to the past. Dedicated in her belief that God owes her for the sins committed against her and her family, Hera is a veritable force of nature who retreats further and further into metal culture, allowing herself to be swallowed whole by an onslaught of sound. As Hera wields her guitar and does her very best to break the sound barrier, METALHEAD develops into a darkly comic examination of the grief process, while paying homage to the ear-shredding gods of heavy metal.

Director Ragnar Bragason, one of Iceland’s most acclaimed directors (CHILDREN, PARENTS, TV’s NIGHTSHIFT), and award-winning lead actress Thorbjörg Helga Dyrfjörd (THE DEEP) join forces to produce a fascinating, nuanced portrait of familial grief, rural life, and religion that ultimately subverts the concept of the stereotypical macho metalhead and celebrates the subculture of alienation that defines the genre. In METALHEAD, death most certainly is real — and life can also be found from the dark side.

— Lindsay Peters