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The Atlantic Selects

Death Metal Grandma

Jan 31, 2019 | 831 videos
Video by Leah Galant

“Old people are excluded from life,” says Inge Ginsberg, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, in Leah Galant’s short documentary. “You have to have a chance to be heard.”

Ginsberg found her chance through an unlikely avenue: heavy metal. Though her lyrics are actually about fighting fascism and saving the environment, Ginsberg shouts them into the mic to her millions of fans on YouTube with the requisite fervor that the genre demands. Death Metal Grandma is a lively portrait of the spunky woman, who refuses to be silenced by a society that she sees as patriarchal and youth-dominated. And she has a lot to say.

Originally from Vienna, Ginsberg, who is Jewish, was a spy during World War II. Facing the possibility of being sent to a concentration camp, she fled to Switzerland, where she landed in a refugee camp with her husband, Otto Kollmann. After the war, they immigrated to America to build new lives. They composed music for some of the most popular singers of their generation—including Nat King Cole, Doris Day, and Dean Martin.

“Getting to know Inge beneath her persona was my main goal of the film,” Galant told The Atlantic. “Elders—and especially elderly women—are rarely front and center in TV or film in a three-dimensional way. Inge shouldn’t have to be a ‘death metal grandma’ to be considered important.”

This film was supported by the Creative Culture Program at the Jacob Burns Film Center, Helen Gurley Brown’s Glassbreaker Films, and Bering Pictures.

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Author: Emily Buder

About This Series

A showcase of cinematic short documentary films, curated by The Atlantic.