The music world may have been missing Kurt Cobain for more than 20 years now, but that doesn't mean that his story is finished just yet. Scraps of his life keep resurfacing, and the extraordinary HBO documentary, "Kurt Cobain: Montage of Heck" -- premiering on May 4 -- has skillfully woven them together. Get ready for a much more human, much more personal side of the "Territorial Pissings" singer.
MTV News got the chance to speak with the film's writer/director, Brett Morgen, both on the carpet at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere and afterward. Read on to find out what we learned about the film, Cobain and the legacy he left behind. Bonus, we've dug up some vintage footage from the MTV vaults for your viewing pleasure:
"I took the film to Miami in March and I was really curious what a regular audience was going to think of the film," Morgen explained. "I remember showing up and there were lines around the block and all these teenagers and millennials in Nirvana shirts. It had this concert vibe and I was like, 'F--k yeah.'
"What I’ve come to learn is that Kurt really represents the uglies, the misfits, the downtrodden, the disenfranchised -- and gives them a voice. And so I think when people [are teens], they start to see the world through different eyes and try to make sense of it. You come to Kurt like a kindred spirit."
"When I showed the film to Frances Bean for the first time, we were talking afterwards and she said, 'You know what my favorite part of the movie is? The end, when it cuts to black.' I was like, 'That was your favorite part of the movie? I don’t know if I should be offended or not.'
"And she goes, 'No, but that’s how it is. That’s how life is. And that’s how death was. And it’s so honest.' At some point it became clear that you couldn’t wrap it up with the bow, like a stupid Hollywood ending. You know, 'Well, Kurt, he’s not here anymore, but you know he’s brought so much comfort and joy in the world!' No. It was tragic and we needed to sort of show this."
"People ask me all the time, 'Is there material that you shy away from or you felt shouldn’t be seen?' I’m going to say something that could be slightly controversial, but I’m just going say it: You have to judge someone by their actions. And if we were judging Kurt’s actions in front of the public eye -- from 1991 to 1994 -- it’s hard to say he’s the most private person you’ve ever seen in rock 'n' roll. He took his daughter to the MTV Music Awards when she was a newborn -- which is something that my wife would never let me do with my children.
"There are a lot of people who are huge, huge icons, who are able to be heroin addicts for 20 years and no one ever wrote about it or knew about it. His journals weren’t kept under lock and key, hidden in a closet somewhere. He would keep them out where he was. There was an invitation in one of them; it says, 'Come ... I’m going to work now, when I’m gone, go through my stuff. Figure me out.' "
"I remember putting in this one tape [from Cobain's storage space] called Montage of Heck. I press play, and it was like a portal into Kurt’s mind. So, I called up the studio and I said I want to call the film 'Montage of Heck' and they go 'WHAT! What are you talking about?'
"Three days before they were about to announce the film -- and I was about to call the film 'Breed' -- my assistant James calls me up and goes, 'Hey, man go to this website.' I go to this website and there was this story about this mixtape called Montage of Heck [that had surfaced]. I was under the assumption that I had the only copy.
"Well, the next day the story of Kurt’s lost mixtape went viral. I get a call from the studio, 'So, are you still interested in that title?' What’s crazy about that is you’re going from 1988 to 2014 and nothing is ever mentioned about this tape -- and right then at that moment it changes the direction of this film."
"I screened the first cut of the film and I turned toward Joe [Beshenkovsky], the editor, and said, 'Man, I don’t think we ... We don't have "Smells Like Teen Spirit" in there anywhere!' Yeah, I would have liked to make a film about Kurt and have it not be front-and-center. Honestly, I didn’t fully realize it until we got to the end and [it was] f--king perfect -- that is how it should be. Kurt would have liked it, I think."
"It pisses me off sometimes when I read stuff about he only did three albums -- and we are about to change that, for one. [We're going to put out much more] than the unreleased tracks that you are hearing in the movie -- it’s totally different. The album is almost like a concept album, like you’re spending an afternoon with Kurt in [ex girlfriend] Tracy [Marander]’s apartment."