When Nick Broomfield started out to make a documentary about the late Kurt Cobain, he planned to trace the Nirvana frontman’s musical roots – interviewing Portland-area bands like Napalm Beach and building a narrative around the grunge icon’s origins. But the final product, 1998’s Kurt & Courtney, wound up being a different project altogether.
“By the time we got to Seattle, Courtney [Love] had heard about it, and already we’d lost part of our funding,” the acclaimed documentary filmmaker tells Rolling Stone in the exclusive interview above. “I think MTV pulled out. So it sort of became a different film. It became a film about why someone was trying to stop the film happening. In a way, it became a more interesting film. Courtney started defining the film then, which was like, ‘What part did she have in his endgame’ kinda thing. And the more we got into it, the more convoluted it became.”
The documentary caused major controversy upon its initial release, thanks to its examinations of conspiracy theories regarding a Love murder-for-hire plot. Broomfield said making the documentary was “fascinating,” but he “wouldn’t want to revisit it.”
“You know, that was the film that was thrown out of Sundance,” he says. “It has the rare achievement of being thrown out of Sundance two days before [the festival] started. I was on the jury that year, so it was an extremely weird experience being on the jury and my film not showing at Sundance. All the people who wanted to distribute it had run off down the road, not wanting it anymore.”
Broomfield says he once ended up dancing next to Love at a Valentine’s Day party, and his reaction was suitably terrified.
“It was just when the film came out,” he says. “Everybody had thrown their handbags in the center of the room, and I suddenly realized I was dancing next to Courtney Love. I just thought, ‘I’ve gotta get out of here.'”