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This Metal Band Is Out to Save the Ancient Maori Language

Filmmaker David Freid is nothing if not prolific. After shooting his first documentary in 2016, the director went on to make 49 more in just two and a half years. Great Big Story is proud to share two of those films. First up, “Maori Metal.” The second, titled “This Film Used to Be About Rum,” will debut in the coming weeks.

“Maori Metal” follows Alien Weaponry, a metal band made up of teenage brothers Henry and Lewis de Jong and their friend Ethan Trembath. Together, they are out to preserve the ancient Maori language and culture in New Zealand.

Freid injects the film with a good amount of humor, partially derived and inspired by Alien Weaponry’s van. As the band members are all underage, their parents drive the custom Alien Weaponry van to and from their gigs.

“I got there, and I saw their van, and what does it say on the side? ‘Hail the new wave of destruction,’ and it’s got some kind of alien death ray on it. It’s all black and imposing,” Freid recalls. “I laughed because I thought, it’s just like ‘Little Miss Sunshine.’ ”

In “Little Miss Sunshine,” a family piles into an old VW van to get a little girl to a pageant. “I started thinking about the structure of ‘Little Miss Sunshine,’ about how it’s like a road trip, and it’s about family more than the final destination,” Freid says.

Any similarities between the road trip in “Maori Metal” and the journey in “Little Miss Sunshine” are intentional. “That became the device to give myself and, hopefully, other people who might be turned off by the genre of music access to the story,” Freid says.

When we’re not making films, we’re watching them. Introducing “Great Big Spotlight,” Great Big Story’s latest series highlighting our favorite documentaries from some of the best filmmaking talent out there. Next up is David Freid’s “Maori Metal.” Watch more from Freid at his website.


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