Introducing the world to a surprising and thriving music scene, the documentary “Death Metal Angola” revolves around that country’s first rock festival in 2011 hosted by its second-largest city, Huambo.
Sonia Ferreira, a woman with 55 children under her charge at the Okutiuka orphanage, and her metalhead boyfriend, Wilker Flores, organized the event, digging deep into their own pockets when Ministry of Culture funding came up short.
Angolan metalheads are filled with the pent-up fury from the country’s war for independence from the Portuguese and subsequent civil war, but the music’s value seems strictly social, not political or artistic. Interviewees here conjure up various atrocities they have endured, but it seems like a desperate attempt to validate and even inflate the music’s importance.
Director Jeremy Xido pays attention to the music only peripherally, without providing cultural context to supplement the history, and the country’s demotic kuduro genre gets only a couple of passing references.
Flores sounds clueless when asserting the presence of classical influences and African beats in metal. His level of knowledge is not surprising, as it turns out that the money he had been setting aside for a proper music education got spent on the festival. You can’t knock someone for trying to do good within his community, but Flores is far more rookie than rock impresario.
“Death Metal Angola”
MPAA rating: R for language.
Running time: 1 hour, 23 minutes.
Playing: AMC Burbank Town Center 8.