Last week, when HBO announced the new documentary Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck, Courtney Love‘s name was conspicuously absent from the press release. The omission was particularly striking given that the Hole frontwoman, who will tour as a solo artist next year with Lana Del Rey, had previously told an interviewer that Montage of Heck director Brett Morgen was working on a Cobain doc. Now Morgen, who previously helmed HBO’s 2012 Rolling Stones film Crossfire Hurricane, has detailed Love’s relation to the film: She’s a subject in it, not someone overseeing its production.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Love came to Morgen in 2007 about making a doc about Cobain and shared a vast trove of previously unseen material, but her involvement stopped years ago. “She gave me the keys to this kingdom and final cut of the film,” Morgen told THR. But Morgen said that “at a certain pint, I started working more closely with” Frances Bean Cobain, the couple’s daughter, a visual artist who also owns an archive of her father’s work and is credited as an executive producer on the film.
Morgen added, “We agreed that because Courtney was a subject in the film, it would be best if she wasn’t given editorial control.” He also said, “She hasn’t seen the movie,” noting, “I’m not sure she’s intending to.”
Frances Bean wrote after the movie’s announcement, in a tweet that her mother retweeted: “I’m really excited for you guys to see Montage of Heck. @brettmorgen created an intense yet wonderful examination of Kurt’s life & art.”
Montage of Heck shares its title with a vintage Kurt Cobain mixtape. Morgen has said the doc draws on more than 200 hours of unreleased music and audio as well as more than 4,000 pages of writings, plus “countless hours of never-before-seen home movies” and various art projects.
UPDATE: Though The Hollywood Reporter didn’t quite say Love was denied editorial control, Morgen has since clarified that she wasn’t seeking such control in the first place. “She never asked for any editorial involvement,” he told Rolling Stone. “In today’s age, and particularly when making a film on a public figure, it is virtually unheard of to grant this kind of access to a filmmaker. And for that I will always be grateful. Any suggestion that Courtney was denied editorial involvement couldn’t be further from the truth. It was her idea to let me have control.”