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Saturday, May 28, 2011

SIFF Sighting: HIT SO HARD (Documentary; USA)

"Patty will always be my drummer." –Courtney Love Cobain

Of course, Courtney's talking about Patty Schemel, the small-town Washington state musician that helped develop the band Hole's sound, and battled a terrible addiction to drugs and alcohol along the way.

It may sound cliché on paper, but the life Schemel entered into when she joined the band, and the resulting life she lives now—after rising above it so many years later—is nothing short of miraculous.

Raised in Marysville, Wash., Schemel always knew she was different, but wasn't comfortable being openly gay in her small home town. She channeled her energy into music and was a member of several bands before landing in Hole.

During her early years with the band, she lived with Courtney and her famous husband, Kurt Cobain. They became close, and as Courtney mentioned in the film, the couple discussed "sharing" Patty's talent between their two bands because they both liked her playing so much. But Nirvana never got the chance to use her.

She settled in to Hole, grieved the death of Cobain soon thereafter and then just two months later, endured the death of the Hole bassist, Kristen Pfaff.

Patty had scattered periods of sobriety, but most of the time, the aftermath of grief left her perpetually waiting until the next time she could get high.

The addition of replacement bassist, Melissa Auf der Maur helped somewhat, giving her a BFF within the band, but even the strength of Melissa's friendship wasn't enough to pull Patty out of her addiction.

This documentary, directed by P. David Ebersol, gives a candid portrait of her battle, featuring footage going as far back as the early 90s, spliced with present day reflections from her Hole bandmates, other musicians in the industry, her mother and her brother.

They all speak lovingly of Patty, who was thankfully able to turn her life around before it was too late.

It's an enjoyable, if not somewhat painful, glimpse into the world of a true survivor.

Hit So Hard screened at The 37th Annual Seattle International Film Festival.


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