EXCLUSIVE: The widow of the Nirvana frontman was a very vocal supporter of the recent HBO documentary Montage Of Heck, but she’s no fan of another film about her relationship with her late husband. The legal team representing Courtney Love has issued a cease-and-desist order against theaters showing the controversial Benjamin Statler-directed docudrama Soaked in Bleach, a look at the death of Kurt Cobain that was ruled a suicide in 1994.
“The Film falsely presents a widely and repeatedly debunked conspiracy theory that accuses Ms. Cobain of orchestrating the death of her husband Kurt Cobain,” writes the Hole singer’s attorney in the order (read it here). “A false accusation of criminal behavior is defamatory … which entitles Ms. Cobain to both actual and presumed damages.” No complaint has been filed with the courts as of yet.
From Suburban Hitchhiker and Daredevil Films, Soaked In Bleach centers on private investigator Tom Grant, hired by Love to find Cobain after he left a substance abuse treatment center in Los Angeles on March 30, 1994. During the period between the musician’s disappearance and the April 8 discovery of his body, Grant recorded many of the conversations he had with Love. Those recordings, paired with re-enactments, make up much of the film, though documentary footage as well as interviews with people close to the matter also are used.
The film revives the highly controversial claim that Cobain’s death was a homicide and that Love might have had a connection to it. It covers similar ground to Nick Broomfield’s 1999 documentary Kurt & Courtney. Seattle police re-examined evidence in 2014 and said the death still was ruled a suicide.
The producers of Soaked In Bleach provided the following statement to 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.
Interest in the musician’s life has been high of late. Director Brett Morgan’s Kurt Cobain: Montage oOf Heck was a success for HBO back in April, earning $107,055 in only three theaters in its first weekend, making it the year’s biggest nonfiction debut.
Love is represented by Dongell Lawrence Finney LLP.