Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Metallica guitarist featured in absent fathers film

Interesting concept for a film: absent fathers.

Paul Liberatore at the Marin Independent Journal reports:

Filmmaker Justin Hunt didn't think he had a chance in the world of getting rock star James Hetfield, lead singer of the heavy metal band Metallica, to appear in "Absent," his documentary about growing up without a father and the damage that causes.

As a fan, Hunt knew that Hetfield's father left his family when James was 13 and that his mother died of cancer three years later. As a filmmaker, he wanted to tell Hetfield's story, along with the many others he tells in "Absent."

As fate would have it, Hunt managed to contact the Metallica frontman through a childhood friend whose kids go to the same school as Hetfield's. He was more than willing to talk on camera about what Hunt calls "the father wound."

"My father left without saying goodbye,"
Hetfield says in the film. "He left a note, and it wasn't even to me."

Hetfield's participation didn't end with his testimony in the film. He's been so supportive of it that he'll join the filmmaker for an onstage discussion after the West Coast premiere of "Absent" on March 3 at the Smith Rafael Film Center.

"The first 29 minutes of the film get you familiarized with what a father wound looks like and how we live with that for the rest of our lives," Hunt explained from his home in Phoenix. "The rest is peoples' stories, ranging from prostitutes to a seven-time world-champion boxer (Johnny Tapia) to inner-city high school kids to James Hetfield of Metallica. It doesn't matter if you're the lead singer of the biggest heavy metal band of all time or a prostitute. It's a human issue, a human wound."

People who grow up with absent or disengaged fathers work out their anger and resentment and feelings of abandonment in different ways. For Hetfield, it was heavy metal music.

"A lot of the Metallica music that is so important to millions of people comes from his father wound," Hunt said. "With James, or any other guy, for that matter, it's a validation issue. If you don't have a father to teach you that you're man, you'll spend your entire life trying to prove it."

Read the full article at the Marin Independent Journal here.

Absent – trailer (2011)