Ashfield filmmaker’s ‘Sound of Metal’ up for six Oscars Sunday

  • This image released by Amazon Studios shows Riz Ahmed in a scene from “Sound of Metal.” Ahmed has been nominated for Academy Awards’ Best Actor in a Leading Role. COURTESY OF AMAZON STUDIOS VIA AP

  • Darius Marder, of Ashfield, stands outside the Greenfield Garden Cinemas ahead of the release of his new film, “Sound of Metal,” in November. STAFF FILE PHOTO/ANDY CASTILLO

  • Darius Marder plays drums on the set of “Sound of Metal.” CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/DARIUS MARDER

Staff Writer
Published: 4/23/2021 8:32:52 PM

Streaming live from Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre in California on Sunday, Hollywood’s biggest stars will take the stage for the 93rd Academy Awards ceremony. Among the headliners will be Ashfield filmmaker Darius Marder and his brother, Abraham Marder, of Amherst — the creators of “Sound of Metal,” a critically acclaimed film about a heavy metal drummer who becomes deaf that’s up for six awards, including Best Picture.

Because of COVID-19, those behind the film’s theater release in November chose to forego a large red carpet event. Instead, the Marder brothers quietly celebrated the occasion by meeting briefly at the Greenfield Garden Cinemas, the theater of their childhood. “Sound of Metal” was released on Amazon Prime the following month, where it’s currently available to stream digitally.

“In a million years, I couldn’t imagine (opening at) the Garden theater in Greenfield, the cinema where I grew up and saw ‘A Hard Day’s Night,’” Darius Marder, the film’s writer and director, said in November.

A Conway native who attended the Greenfield Center School and Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield, Darius Marder recently moved back to Franklin County after living in New York City for 25 years. Darius and Abraham Marder’s parents, Lauri and Efrem Marder, both live in western Franklin County.

“In a way, it’s beautiful,” Darius Marder said at the time. “It brought me home.”

Film enthusiasts across the region will be tuning in Sunday night to support the local brothers.

“We wouldn’t miss it. ‘Sound of Metal’ is our Oscar pick. Not just because Darius made it, but because Darius is a unique storyteller — one who unravels the sound, the light, the suffering, the playfulness and the resilience of dreams,” said Ruth Charney, a founding member of the Greenfield Center School who taught Marder in seventh and eighth grade. “He was always a gifted storyteller, always able to intrigue his audience with the juicy details of a misadventure as well as the struggling efforts of any of us and all of us. We are so proud and so glad for his achievements. Did I say — it is the picture of the year.”

“Sound of Metal,” which follows a heavy metal drummer who is recovering from addiction and navigating new challenges that arise with his sudden deafness, is an immersive soundscape that is as intense as it is moving. Sometimes it feels like a silent movie, with the audio cutting in and out — a notable aspect of the film Abraham Marder, a musician, particularly contributed to. It gives a brief window into the quiet world those who are deaf experience. And in documentary style, the film is shot on 35mm film. Critics have noted exceptional performances by Riz Ahmed, who portrays the drummer, and his co-stars.

The Oscar nominations for “Sound of Metal” include: Best Actor in a Leading Role, for Ahmed’s performance; Best Actor in a Supporting Role, for Paul Raci’s acting as Joe, who manages a shelter for deaf people recovering from addiction; Film Editing; Best Picture; Sound; and Writing (original screenplay). The film’s screenplay is by Darius Marder and Abraham Marder; its story was created by Darius Marder and Derek Cianfrance.

So far, along with the coveted Oscar nominations, “Sound of Metal” has been nominated for and/or received prizes at more than 40 different awards ceremonies, including Best International Film at the 2019 Zurich Film Festival, following its release at the 2019 International Toronto Film Festival. More recently, “Sound of Metal” placed first for sound and editing at this year’s British Academy Film Awards and took home Outstanding Directorial Achievement of a First-Time Feature Film Director at the 2021 Directors Guild of America Awards.

“Sound of Metal,” which runs 130 minutes, stars Olivia Cooke, Paul Raci, Lauren Ridloff and Mathieu Amalric alongside Ahmed, whose discography includes notable titles “Nightcrawler” in 2014; “Jason Bourne” in 2016; “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in 2016; and “Venom” in 2018. At the 2017 Emmy Awards, Ahmed received two nominations for his performances in the HBO miniseries “The Night Of” and the comedy-drama “Girls,” winning Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie for the former. The film was produced by Bert Hamelinck and Sacha Ben Harroche.

The Oscars can be viewed on Sunday beginning at 6:30 p.m. on ABC. “Sound of Metal” is available on Amazon Prime.

Andy Castillo can be reached at

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