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Interview with Benjamin Statler, director of ‘Soaked In Bleach’

00 Soaked @2x

Benjamin Statler is as bold a director of docudrama as can get. With his film Soaked In Bleach, he not only poses the hypothesis that Kurt Cobain’s death was a homicide and not a suicide but begs the question – in not so many words – ‘Will a tough authority body like the Seattle Police Department ever admit it was wrong in such a prominent case?’

Interview by Antonino Tati

 

I’m guessing the making of this film has taken up the better part of your life over the past few years, Ben, but when did you actually decide to make a film about the last days of Kurt Cobain and why?

It’s been a pretty consuming project, for sure. When I first discovered Tom Grant’s website cobaincase.com I was longing to see this mountain of objective facts about Kurt Cobain’s death to become known in the mainstream. I learned about Tom Grant through Nick Broomfield’s movie Kurt & Courtney which I saw around 1998. I discovered Tom’s website shortly after I saw Nick’s movie.

 

I must say, your film is very artfully made, from the clarity of the sequence of news quotes in the opening, right into the first re-enactment of the dark and dreary night before Kurt’s death… As a docudrama, were there moments in the making of it where you thought, hang on a minute, there’s a little too much drama being presented here and I need to pull back and make it more documentary-like?

No, not at all. Docudrama is certainly the appropriate genre name for this film. The documentary part – the interviews with the world’s most qualified forensic experts – was meant to serve the purpose of objectively addressing the key elements in the investigation around Kurt’s death. The dramatic recreations were meant to flesh out the context of how Tom Grant’s investigation played out as he dealt with Courtney Love, Dylan Carlson, Rosemary Carroll, and the Seattle Police Department. We based the dialogue of these recreations very tightly to the actual audio recordings and other artefacts collected from Tom Grant’s investigation.

 

The gist of the film is that the death of Kurt Cobain could have been designed to look like a suicide when it might actually have been a homicide. When did you – as a follower of pop culture – begin entertaining this theory?

Nick Broomfield’s movie got my attention, but I actually didn’t begin to seriously entertain the theory until I dove into Tom Grant’s website.

 

What would be one or more motives for an individual or party to want to see Kurt Cobain dead?

Money.

 

03. Soaked

The film details the events leading up to Kurt’s death, but as seen through the perspective of Tom Grant, the private detective hired by Courtney Love to find Cobain shortly before he was found dead. Do you think viewers might be concerned of any bias or distrust in Grant’s perspective? After all, he was initially paid by Love to start with…

I appreciated Tom being available to share his perspective. I believe most people will appreciate that his perspective has always been backed by actual audio recordings and now the perspectives of the most qualified forensic experts in the world. I invited Courtney Love to be interviewed for the film and to share her perspective. She never responded to the invitation.

 

Did Courtney or her lawyers try to stop you from making this film? Were there any notices of cease-and-desist coming directly from them to you?

Yes.  I received cease and desist letters from Courtney Love’s lawyers after I released the first trailer for Soaked In Bleach in April of 2014.

 

02. Soaked

A fair amount of documentary footage, as well as interview footage with people associated with the case, have been incorporated into the film. Was it difficult getting clearance to use this footage?

Legal rights and clearances [were] certainly a big part of making this film.

 

Do you think the film has had fair critique on citizen journalist review sites such as Rotten Tomatoes? I hear that there have been attempts by certain parties to sabotage its reputation with low scores being given even before the film had been viewed?

There was an article on Reddit addressing how ratings sabotage for Soaked In Bleach was the most blatant ever. IMDb had about 1,000 votes of 1 out of 10 before the movie was even released. I believe for the user ratings on IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes the problem was addressed and all of the fake votes that didn’t even have real emails were deleted. As for the critics ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, I have to say I find it very unprofessional and irresponsible that they would let reviews count that don’t even mention the world-renowned forensic experts which make up about 50% of the film, much less the actual conclusion of the movie which is simply that the Kurt Cobain death investigation needs to be reopened.

 

Who would want to hide the message that this film is trying to portray, and why would they be wanting to hide this information?

Let’s all furrow our brows and rub our chins and think really hard.

 

03 Soaked @2x

Suffice to say, the Seattle Police Department might be embarrassed to have to revisit the case again. With an authority body such as the SPD, which has a reputation of being brutally forceful, were you ever paranoid in the making of this film; that someone might be after your head?

Through the years I was warned by various people to be careful based on the history of certain people. I’m not paranoid though.

 

Would you say the bottom line of the film is that is suggests a re-opening of the investigation into Kurt Cobain’s death?

Absolutely.

 

Finally, what other music documentaries would you consider Soaked In Bleach to be in good company of; documentary films that you’ve admired that you feel are similar to it?

I can appreciate the tendency to categorise Soaked In Bleach as a music documentary as it involves Kurt Cobain, however, in truth, it’s an investigative docudrama. Some of my favourite documentaries that have influenced and inspired me are Jiro Dreams Of Sushi, Inside Job, Searching For Sugar Man, The Imposter, The Fog Of War, and more recently Citizenfour.

 

‘Soaked In Bleach’ is available on DVD through Shock Entertainment.

Cream has 10 copies on DVD to give away. To try winning one, simply tell us your favourite Nirvana song in the Comments section, below. Competition closes Friday 16th October. 

Soaked In Bleach @2x

 

Director Benjamin Statler of 'Soaked In Bleach'

Picture, above, director of ‘Soaked In Bleach’, Benjamin Statler.

 

68 Responses to “Interview with Benjamin Statler, director of ‘Soaked In Bleach’”

  1. Thaydrian

    I have a degree in Criminal Justice, I graduated with honors, besides having a C.J Degree I have also been a guitarist for more than 33 years, so I see things pertaining to this case different than most. I have never seen more potent proof of a murder cover up than when I watched “Soaked in Bleach”. I am blown away at how the media, the police, even Dave and Krist pay ZERO attention to the fact Kurt clearly was set up and murdered. What we need to focus on is MOTIVE! Who stood to gain the most from Kurt’s demise. Follow the money, follow the right’s to the music etc etc and it leaves 3 people standing, Courtney, Dave and Krist. I know, trust me I know what some of you are thinking, but look at this case from an unbiased position and that is the ONLY conclusion that one can attain with the facts/recordings presented in the film. There can be no doubt Courtney set this heinous plan in motion and Cali along with Dylan executed the plan, but why didn’t Dave and Krist speak out after seeing the film? Did they even watch “Soaked in Bleach” (the true account of Tom Grant and Love’s former Attorney)? I know they both saw Courtney Love’s “Montage of Heck”. Dave has the ears of the entire planet musically, but they stayed silent and refuse to talk about it at all. Maybe they were bought off by the powers that be? Does anybody really think “Celebrity Skin” was written by anybody else besides Kurt? Kurt dies, then Courtney Love releases a hit record a few years later winning award after award? She more than likely took all of Kurt’s writing for herself and who knows what else, and made it her own. I just can’t believe more people are not as fucking outraged as myself at how blatant of a cover up this actually was and STILL IS! God bless Tom Grant and his AMAZING detective work. We may never see justice served, but know this, we all answer for the things we do in this life, Courtney is no exception nor the others involved. Rest in Piece Kurt. #WeKnow

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  2. AlanCantWhistle

    I hope they deleted the iMDB ratings that scored it a 10 before it was released. Just to be fair. How is this film even a 10? People are really going overboard with their scores. It’s a 5 at best.

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    • Nonbiasfanboi

      5 at best? Ludicrous. This movie was trying to portray a point and it did that perfectly. maybe 5/5 if that’s what you meant. Otherwise EXPLAIN why you think it’s 5/10.

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      • AlanCantWhistle

        They get several things wrong (perhaps on purpose for their own end perhaps?). The supposed 3x lethal dose of heroin for example. Look it up. It’s not a 3x lethal dose. The ‘friends’ interviewed are all old friends of Kurt’s. They were never around him towards the end. How can they commments on his state of mind? Why were they even interviewed? Maybe because no one who WAS around him at the time believe in the SiB crap. The scene which shows Grant interview Dylan with an agitated and nervous Courtney sitting across from them did not happen like that in real life. Grant has previously claimed that she was ‘out of earshot’. What could be the point of showing her there, listening and looking nervous I wonder. And of course he used a video of Kurt talking about how his stomach condition was ‘cured’ to make the point that he had no need for heroin and must have been clean at the time of his death. Except that interview took place after the Live and Loud show. Kurt’s drug dealer has already stated that he sold heroin to Kurt before the show. Not forgetting that he looks like he is on something. He was not clean and happy and making plans for the future. If the makers had done ANY research they would have realised this. It is a biased film and is deliberately misleading to suit their goal. Everyone who watches it should know this.

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        • Nonbiasfanboi

          Really? Well most people around then DO believe this “SIB crap” Kim Gordan, Buzz osbourne, supposedly Layne Staley, his old girlfriend, supposedly a member of nirvana claims grant on top of all the evidence portrayed and the acting was pretty much dead on.. I’d like to see the sources where you got the info that kurt just finished a deal after the live and loud show but also why wouldn’t courtney respond to this movie when she was given the chance to give her side? Oh yeah.. shes guilty! just because it wasn’t maybe 100% accurate where it doesn’t matter doesn’t mean that the film is a 5 star film.

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          • AlanCantWhistle

            Buzz Osbourne has never stated that he agrees with the murder theory. He seems to be more on the suicide opinion. He ranted once about Kurt leaving his child at the mercy of that woman. He hates Courtney and he thinks MOH was 90% BS (although he is wrong about that as other friends have stated that he talked about the story of the girl and he had stomach pains). Kim Gordon has admitted that she didn’t know Kurt very well. Again, she wasn’t around in the last year or so. She might have stated a while ago that she didn’t think he killed himself but we don’t know her opinion now. I didn’t even think Layne was that good a friend of Kurts. Was he? The story about his drug dealer comes from his own book, American Junkie (Tom Hansen) and in the book Everyone loves our town by Mark Yarm. Courtney didn’t respond to a film that was made with the assistance of the man who has had a crusade against her for the last 22 years? Shocker! It wasn’t 100% accurate ‘where it matters’? Well it seemed to matter to the makers of they included a good portion of those things in the film. You would think they would at least do the proper research.

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            • Nonbiasfanboi

              Well I say Kim because actually in the last year in her own book she says that Kurt’s death was suspicious and also in an interview with Buzz he’s stated that “People don’t agree with my opinion on Kurt’s death anyway” in an interview last year and yes, Kurt was friends with all of those people you can notice this if you’ve watched every interview and read more. Why would Dylan say that Kurt was happy and he didn’t expect him to die? Sure, suicidal people can seem that way but the evidence still stands strong. Where there is lying there is intent. and btw the SPD said themselves that the 3x the lethal dose is correct so you cannot argue that that isn’t the case my friend. Check out this post by Kurt’s ex, this is the lady that you think is innocent. http://mythicalrhinkness.tumblr.com/post/123771952143/why-i-hate-courtney-love

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              • AlanCantWhistle

                I think you need to read my posts more carefully. I didn’t say that the amount of heroin hadn’t been confirmed. I said it was not a 3x lethal dose. Look up minimum lethal dose of heroin and you’ll see. There’s no way to establish a true lethal limit for an individual anyway, let alone a rock star with access to huge funds. Dylan did not say he was happy. He said he was going though a tough time but he was ready to deal with it. And he bought the gun so I’m sure there was some sort of denial with him not to mention he was also a heroin addict at the time.

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                • Nonbiasfanboi

                  If there isn’t a true lethal dose then why did the police officer himself state that there was 3x the lethal dose, just saying and lets say I took your word for it, that still doesn’t explain the lying and the other problems that appear to be evident.

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            • Nonbiasfanboi

              Also I am taking your word for her not being in the room while talking to Dylan I am not sure but either way I am convinced that there is no other way to explain what has happened since CL refuses to defend herself over very serious claims.

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