At 14, Toronto school friends (and nice Jewish boys) Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner made a pact to rock together forever. Their band, Anvil, went on to become the “demigods of Canadian metal,” releasing one of the heaviest albums in metal history, 1982’s Metal on Metal. The album influenced a musical generation, including Metallica, Slayer and Anthrax, and went on to sell millions of records. But Anvil’s career took a different path—straight to obscurity.
Director Sacha Gervasi has concocted a wonderful and often hilarious account of Anvil’s last-ditch quest for elusive fame and fortune. His ingenious filmmaking may first lead you to think this a mockumentary—scenes play like This Is Spinal Tap reset in the frozen North—but it isn’t. Gervasi joined the legendary heavy metal band as a roadie for a tour of Canadian hockey arenas, so he has intimate insight into the members’ eccentricities. It’s fascinating to see the reality of their day-to-day lives as, now in their 50s, they struggle to make ends meet, take a misguided European tour, and engage in antics on the road—which is not always lined with fans. Gervasi even finds a softer center to this raucous film, introducing us to band members’ ever-supportive, but long-suffering, families. At its core, Anvil! The Story of Anvil is a timeless tale of survival and the unadulterated passion it takes to follow your dream, year after year. Anvil rocks—it has no other choice.
From 2008 Festival: Director, United States
Born in London to an American diplomat and a Canadian concert pianist, Sacha Gervasi was the only head-banger at Westminster School where he was threatened with expulsion for wearing red-striped troubadour trousers and a matching Hawkwind waistcoat.
After meeting the legendary heavy metal band Anvil at London’s Marquee club, Sacha joined the band as a roadie for a tour of Canadian hockey arenas during the summer of 1983. He toured with Anvil twice more during the 80s, learning how to play drums from metal God Robb Reiner.
Returning home, Sacha earned a degree in Modern History from King’s College, London but turned down a fellowship to Harvard in favor of co-founding a band with an old school friend. He quickly left, claiming the band was “talentless and going nowhere.” Eighteen months later the band changed its name to Bush and sold over ten million records in the U.S. alone.
Sacha next worked for British Poet Laureate, Ted Hughes, at the Arvon Writing Foundation, the charity Hughes started with Sylvia Plath.
In 1995, he attended the graduate screenwriting program at UCLA Film School, where he twice won the BAFTA/LA scholarship and supported himself by writing for publications such as Punch, The Observer, and The London Sunday Times.
While still at UCLA, a script he co-wrote with Craig Ferguson was made into a film called THE BIG TEASE by Warner Bros. Warners next asked Sacha to consider adapting a new children’s book about a boy wizard called Harry Potter. He turned them down citing the book’s “complete lack of commerciality.”
In 2004, Sacha wrote THE TERMINAL, starring Tom Hanks and directed by Steven Spielberg. He has since written projects for Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey and Keanu Reeves.
Sacha was the last journalist to interview Hervé Villechaize, six days before the actor committed suicide in 1993. Next year he will write and direct the true story of Villechaize’s final week alive, starring Peter Dinklage.
1. The Terminal (2004)
2. The Big Tease (1999)
1. Anvil! The Story of Anvil (2008)
1. The Big Tease (1999) (executive producer)