Courtney Love is a rock star.
You can tell she's famous because she held up last night's screening of "Hit So Hard" at New Directors/New Films by nearly an hour. The new documentary, directed by P. David Ebersole, is a look at the life of rock drummer Patty Schemel. Former Hole band mates Eric Erlandson and Melissa auf der Mar joined Schemel on the MoMA red carpet to wait for their former front woman. The clock ticked well past the film's start time and everyone got rather anxious as Love checked in from the car saying more than once that she was just five minutes away.
Eventually Schemel, auf der Mar and Erlandson gave up and stood together as a trio in front of the paparazzi. But, just as the photographers started shooting, Courtney Love's black SUV pulled up in front of MoMA and the foursome posed together for the first time in about thirteen years.
Pictured above (left to right): Eric Erlandson, Patty Schemel, Courtney Love and Melissa auf der Mar. Pictured right: Patty Schemel. Photos by Godlis.
After the screening, all four original members of Hole – who had watched the movie together for the first time -- got on stage for a brief conversation.
The documentary features raw scenes from their career together, including the moment when Schemel was booted from the band. Another drummer played on Hole's Celebrity Skin album even though Schemel posed for the photos and played in the music videos. That was shortly before Schemel, fighting drug addiction, reached the end of her rope. One journalist in the audience wondered why Patty Schemel would want to expose her story, which tracks her own rock star rise and then dramatic fall to drugged out homelessness.
The archival footage at the core of the movie includes candid shots from the road and behind the scenes. It was tucked away in a closet somewhere and a few years ago she feared that it might deteriorate so she enlisted friend P. David Ebersole to help preserve it. Watching the home movies with the filmmaker, she said she realized that they had the makings of a movie on their hands.
"I trusted them with it," Patty Schemel said, referring to Ebersole and producer Todd Hughes. "Its very special. There was some really private stuff in it. [I told them] take good care of this and tell my story."
At moments, the Q & A felt a bit like group therapy. Courtney Love turned to her left and quizzed Patty Schemel about the fallout from the drummer being kicked out of the band many years ago. Love asked Schemel directly about being replaced in Hole. "Was it a Gen X thing?" Love wondered.
"I didn't really know that kind of stuff went on," Schemel said about being replaced on the album. "But, also I think that we became so corporate. We eventually became…"
"But that's what made the 90s special," interjected Eric Erlandson from the other end of the stage, stirring applause and laughter from the crowd.
And then someone asked the musicians what they're doing next. "Individually?" MoMA's Raj Roy clarified. "Together!" someone screamed from the audience, stirring a raucous cheer.
"We've scheduled our first gardening party together, we're going to plant some pea sprouts," Erlandson smiled. "And then after that…" he added, gesturing towards his former band mates.
"I am just emotionally in shock," interjected Melissa auf der Mar, "Because I hadn't seen the film and it almost seems silly that we are up here at all because it's not about a band called Hole at all. it really is entirely about Patty. And the only reason I came to this movie theater is that Patty Schemel is alive. That's the only reason I'm here."
"I do want to say that if something is not relevant I don't want to do it," added Courtney Love after the applause died down. She said she'd love to play with Schemel again, or her former Hole members for that matter. But, she added, "If it’s not moving forward I don't want to do it. That's all I have to say about that question."
After the movie, husbands P. David Ebersole and Todd Hughes seemed both elated and relieved that the film played well with the audience and the band. They made their way over to Brasserie on E. 53rd St. for a post screening celebration where Courtney Love caused a bit a stir among the suits at the bar when she showed up to join Schemel, auf der Mar and Erlandson. The crowd circulated as the restaurant emptied out.
As the evening drew to a close, Ebersole and Hughes received lot's of hugs and kisses from family and friends while nearby all four original members of Hole huddled in a corner chatting together for awhile.
Hit So Hard will screen again at New Directors/New Films tomorrow. Tickets are still available for Wednesday's 9 p.m. screening at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater.
Pictured above (left to right): Melissa auf der Mar, Courtney Love, Patty Schemel and P. David Ebersole. Image courtesy MoMA.