A Band Called Death

  • Jeff Howlett, Mark Covino
  • United States
  • 2012
  • 98 min
  • International Premiere
  • IDFA Competition for Music Documentary
Forget the Ramones, forget the Sex Pistols. They were not the founding fathers of punk rock. No, it was black brothers David, Dannis and Bobby Hackney from Detroit. The Hackney brothers were playing loud and dirty punk in their basement in Detroit in the early 1970s, well before the genre was invented. The black community in Detroit looked at them with pity - didn't they know that rock was white music? Generally speaking, musicians within the black community were more in tune with the sounds of Motown. When the brother's dad died, David, the creative and spiritual brain behind the outfit, rechristened the band Death. This turned out to be a fatal mistake in marketing terms, as not a single record company would touch a band with that name. But the brothers were undaunted, and stuck it out for the day their music would be appreciated. The enthralling, tragic story of Death turns out to be an unparalleled family saga. Interviews are intercut with archive footage and images of a desolate Detroit, where the surviving members of the band revisit significant sites from the past. As the camera slides past row upon row of dilapidated houses, there seems to be little hope. But then a miraculous resurrection takes place.


  • 98 min
  • color / black and white
  • video
  • Spoken languages: English
Jeff Howlett, Mark Covino
Matthew Perniciaro for Haven Entertainment, Jerry Ferrara for Haven Entertainment, Scott Mosier for Haven Entertainment, Kevin Mann for Haven Entertainment
Mark Covino
Rich Fox
Sam Retzer, Tim Boland

IDFA history

International Premiere
IDFA Competition for Music Documentary

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IDFA history

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