By Heidi Simmons
The November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks hit home when Coachella Valley’s homegrown band Eagles of Death Metal were targeted while performing at the Bataclan Theater. During the sold-out concert, extremists opened fire on the crowd of nearly 1,500 people, killing 89 and injuring hundreds.
The members of the band survived, but one of their crewmembers was killed.
A year later, the band returned to Paris to give a concert at the Olympia Theater where they performed with the mega-band U2.
The Palm Springs International Film Festival screens the World Premiere of the documentary film Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) in its True Stories Program. Directed by actor and filmmaker Colin Hanks, and financed by Live Nation, the doc delivers an intimate and moving story of friendship, love and overcoming tragedy through music.
Hanks will be attending the screening for a short discussion after the premiere.
Local boys from Palm Desert, Jesse Hughes and Josh Homme formed Eagles of Death Metal in 1998. Friends since high school, Hughes (aka Boots Electric) and drummer Homme (aka Baby Duck) talk about the band’s evolution, their passion and dedication to rock and roll.
Transformed by the tragedy and horror, Hughes and Homme share their “joyful dedication of the glories of rock and roll as it comes face to face with the nihilism of the terrorists.” Homme was not present in Paris during the attack.
The documentary features interviews by many of the survivors and has appearances by Bono and The Edge, who offered support to the band in the immediate aftermath of the attack. Music includes Eagles of Death Metal, Queens of the Stone Age and Alain Johannes.
A long-time friend and fan of the band, Hanks saw an opportunity to examine the recovery and rebuilding process after the terrorist assault. Hanks explores how the band and its fans move through the tragedy to begin again.
This is Hanks second feature length documentary. Last year his film All Things Must Pass: The Rise and Fall of Tower Records was released by Gravitas Ventures.
After the attack in 2015, Hughes made comments that became controversial when he suggested that he suspected the Paris venue’s security team may have been involved in the terror plot. While Hanks’ film is not political, it does not avoid the issue. Other film festivals dropped the documentary when Hughes’ remarks circulated.
The documentary covers the band’s start, the concert in Paris and its European tour. Hanks, Homme and Hughes deliver a film about the power of music, friendship, fans, courage and camaraderie.
Contrary to the name Eagles of Death Metal (EoDM), the band’s music is desert, blues, alt and garage rock more than death metal.
Eagles of Death Metal: Nos Amis (Our Friends) U.S./France, 87 minutes, Screens: January 14, 7:00 pm at the Annenberg Theater and January 15, 1:00 pm at the Mary Pickford Theater. For tickets and more information visit the box office or online www.psfilmfest.org Schedule is subject to change.