Disarming docu “Heavy Metal Village” takes a bemused look at sleepy German farm town Wacken, which once a year wakes up to the din of a music festival attracting 40,000 headbangers. Helmer Cho Sung-hyung plays her culture-clash card wisely by focusing on the burg’s inhabitants, only very gradually introducing elements of the “Wacken Open Air” fest. Further fest play and select artscaster sales are assured.
Wacken’s population is aging, as youngsters leave for greener pastures and oldsters struggle to maintain small agriculture/livestock concerns against competition from factory farms. Opinions vary about the annual onslaught of “gruesome music” and long-haired, black-clad guests, though most citizens happily lay aside any personal prejudice to take advantage of the brief, surging cashflow. Principal interviewees include two elderly women who fear metalheads are animal-sacrificing “devil worshippers;” an original fest cofounder who withdrew from the now-lucrative event, to his lasting chagrin; and two young women for whom Open Air is a social oasis. A vanishing way of rural life is the real subject here, with glimpses of fest attendees and performers reserved for the last reel or two. Attractive lensing highlights the nicely assembled package.