Belfast Film Festival 2016

Wacken 3-D.

Wacken pic 1.

The Wacken Open Air is an annual heavy metal music festival that takes place over four days every August in the small German village of Wacken. Remarkably over these four days more than 80,000 people manage to pack in to this little town, the population of which is barely 2,000 the rest of the year. Tickets are usually sold out a whole year in advance; in 2014, for example, the following year’s Wacken festival sold out within 12 hours of the previous one ending.

So to a lot of people the event is a pretty big deal, and Wacken 3-D does a brilliant job of portraying exactly how big a deal it is. This documentary takes us through the 2013 festival in just over an hour and a half – the time flies in, leaving you wanting more if anything – focusing on a few central ‘protagonists’ as they arrive and survive through four days/ three nights of camping, drinking games, cars caught in ditches, sun wind and rain, impromptu water slides and various other memorable moments worth treasuring.

Not to mention, of course, the music and artists themselves; including Deep Purple, Motorhead and Alice Cooper among many others, some legendary, some newcomers to the scene. Wacken 3-D takes you up close and personal, the 3-D element proving invaluable for making you feel like you’re literally right there with everyone at the festival, on stage and among the crowd, from your (hopefully) comfortable cinema seat. I haven’t found 3-D this effective since Gravity, and that film was, while excellent, completely reliant on CGI – whereas here, everything is real and authentic. The few moments where they throw a quirky effect at you, if only for fun, adds to the crazy experience of it all.

This film – this festival – has everything any heavy metal fan, from anywhere in the world (it seems every country from Mongolia to Canada is represented), could wish for. It really is like heaven for ‘metal-heads’. For you this term may conjure up images of a certain kind of person. Perhaps a large dude sporting a beard, wearing a leather jacket and riding a motorcycle; or a long-haired gothic type with creepy face paint. But what the Wacken Open Air shows us – and by extension Wacken 3-D – is that these stereotypes do not apply to many metal fans. This genre of music is truly universal.

9 / 10

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