Published Jun 17, 2015The recent documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck came with the blessing of the late Nirvana frontman's estate, but the same cannot be said for Soaked in Bleach, which dredges up old theories that the songwriter was murdered and that his widow Courtney Love was involved. Now, Love has filed a cease and desist against any theatres intending to screen the film.
A letter from Love's lawyers argues, "The Film falsely presents a widely and repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory that accuses Ms. Cobain of orchestrating the death of her husband Kurt Cobain. A false accusation of criminal behavior is defamatory per se under California Civil Code Section 45a, which entitles Ms. Cobain to both actual and presumed damages."
The letter goes on to point out that Cobain's death was ruled a suicide by police at the time, and subsequent re-examinations of the evidence have drawn the same conclusions. And even though the theatres that screen the film aren't directly responsible for its content, they can be held accountable if they are aware that the flick is defamatory. Theatres were given five days to cancel the screenings or else Love's legal team will "immediately pursue all available civil legal remedies on behalf of our client against you."
Meanwhile, the producers of Soaked in Bleach have issued a response to Love's threats. They said [via Deadline]:
We were disturbed to learn that Courtney Love's lawyers sent threatening letters to movie theaters all over the country. Most arrived before Soaked in Bleach was released last week, presumably before she or her lawyers ever saw it. She obviously hoped to scare theater owners into dropping the film. Thankfully, very few were intimidated. Most saw the letter for what it is — a cowardly attack on the rights of free speech, free expression and free choice.
Courtney Love's uninformed accusations and efforts to discredit the film are totally off base. The film examines the well documented facts surrounding the death of Kurt Cobain and it questions much of what the public has been told about those events. Most of the opinions and theories presented in the film come directly from facts gathered by Tom Grant, the private investigator Courtney Love hired the week before Kurt's body was discovered. Tom quickly became suspicious and tape recorded all his conversations with Courtney and others in the days leading up to and after Kurt's death. The film uses those recordings to reenact Tom's encounters with Courtney Love and others in Kurt's inner circle. It also presents the views of Norm Stamper, Seattle's Police Chief at the time, and Dr. Cyril Wecht, a leading forensic pathologist, who both question whether Kurt could have committed suicide.
Courtney Love and her lawyers clearly don't like that the film presents a compelling case for re-opening the investigation into Kurt's death. They should respect the First Amendment and let people decide for themselves.
There's no word as to whether the threats from Love's legal team dissuaded any theatres from screening the film. It played yesterday (June 16) at Vancouver's Rio Theatre (which was the only scheduled Canadian showing).
Soaked in Bleach was directed on Benjamin Statler. Watch a trailer below. Given that the Melvins' Buzz Osborne called Montage of Heck "total bullshit," we'd love to hear what he thinks of this one.