Documentarian Jeremy Xido never expected to find rock bands in Africa. He was in Angola for an entirely different reason, looking for footage to use on a different film. So when he bumped into a musician at a Huambo coffee shop and asked the guy what type of music he played, he was stunned to hear “Death Metal.”
“It totally blew my mind,” Xido recalls. “I told him he had to play for me.” The result was the film Death Metal Angola, which screens at this year’s Sarasota Film Festival.
Eventually, the guitarist, a native named Wilker Flores, invited Xido to hear him play at the “Orphanage,” which Xido actually presumed was a club. Instead, he found himself that night listening to a roaring set of genuine metalcore inside an Angolan orphanage run by Flores’ girlfriend Sonia Ferreira.
Xido was equipped for filming a movie. He was actually in town researching the impact of a Chinese railroad the ended in Huambo for a documentary that has yet to be made. But he figured capturing Flores on film could at least produce a compelling short.
But the next time Xido visited Angola a few months later and caught up with Flores again, he soon found himself filming a rock concert in Angola aimed at assisting the orphanage and the entire war-torn community. In the end, he had a full length feature as much about the strength of Sonia and Wilker as it was about the novelty of finding death metal being played in a poverty-sticken nation.
“To me, the story was much more profound than I could have ever imagined,” he said.
The result, of course, is Death Metal Angola, which premiered last year in Dubai, and then went on to the International Film Festival Rodderdam. Now, the film is playing for American audiences for the first time. The North American premiere for the film will be at the the Regal Hollywood 20 on Thursday, April 11, at 5:30pm, with a second screening scheduled for Saturday, April 13 at 9:30pm