Unreleased OZZFEST Documentary 'We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll' To Finally See Light Of Day

November 13, 2023

Penelope Spheeris has confirmed that her unreleased Ozzfest documentary "We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll" will finally see the light of day.

The 77-year-old director, whose best-known works include the trilogy titled "The Decline Of Western Civilization", each covering an aspect of Los Angeles underground culture, and "Wayne's World", her highest-grossing film, discussed the status of "We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll" in a new interview with Canada's The Metal Voice. She said (as transcribed by BLABBERMOUTH.NET): "I did go to the Motion Picture Academy Museum [in August] because they screened 'We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll' recently, which is a movie that I did with Sharon and Ozzy [Osbourne] 20 years ago. And it was never released. And it has BLACK SABBATH, original BLACK SABBATH, and SLIPKNOT, ROB ZOMBIE, SYSTEM OF A DOWN, it's got GODSMACK, FEAR FACTORY, blah, blah, blah, blah, 10 bands in it, with Buckethead playing guitar in a cemetery. And it's a great film. And Sharon says she's going to release it now. After 20 years."

Regarding the premise for the documentary, Penelope said: "It's like you are going on tour on the Ozzfest and you're seeing all these bands. I went on a tour bus and went to, like, 30 cities and filmed all the 10 bands. And I respect the bands. SLAYER is in the movie. Whatever city we went to — like, for example, San Francisco, we were there. And I went, 'Oh, where can I film SLAYER? Ah, Alcatraz.' Okay. 'Oh, SLIPKNOT. We're in D.C. Where can I film SLIPKNOT? Ah, the National Monument.' So you see SLIPKNOT walking around at the National Monument in front of Abraham Lincoln. I put them in different locations and I went backstage with all the bands and Ozzy; I did a lot of stuff with Ozzy backstage."

Spheeris went on to say that she "worked three years on that movie and it never got released. I used to wake up in the morning, lay in bed, cry for a half an hour before I get out of bed because I never got the movie released. And now, I mean, it's a historical document at this point of 1999 Ozzfest."

Calling "We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll" her second-best documentary, behind "The Decline Of Western Civilization III", the 1998 film that chronicles the gutter punk lifestyle of homeless teenagers, Penelope stated about the Ozzfest documentary's release: "I don't know [exactly how and when the film will be made available] because I hesitate to bother Sharon right now. She's got a lot of things on her plate right now. I am gonna get in touch next week, though, and do whatever I can to help her get the movie out."

The 90-minute "We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll", which was shot in the late 1990s, includes interviews and live footage with SLIPKNOT, STATIC-X and SYSTEM OF A DOWN, along with plenty of backstage action. The is also a lot of focus on BLACK SABBATH as Ozzfest 1999 was billed as the band's final-ever performance in the United States.

"We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll" was screened at a number of film festivals more than 20 years ago but has never seen wide release after being held up in what has been reported as "music copyright issues."

Back in 2008, Sharon Osbourne commented on the status of "We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll" in response to an article that was posted on Todd Martens' "Extended Play" blog on the Los Angeles Times web site. At the time, she wrote in an e-mail: "We would love for 'We Sold Our Souls for Rock 'n' Roll' to eventually be released. We didn't invest over a million dollars in the movie to keep it locked away. In reality, we were unable to secure the necessary music licensing and talent releases from all of the bands that participated in the documentary. We needed a substantial amount of money to secure these releases so as a business proposition it just didn't make sense to pour even more money into the project. We all tried to find an independent backer to come in, but were unable to find anyone.

"As far as not allowing Penelope Spheeris to show the documentary at film festivals, please see below the list of festivals where I know that the film was shown (and there may have been more).

* Sundance Film Festival (2001)
* SXSW Film Festival (2001)
* Melbourne International Film Festival (2001)
* Sydney Film Festival (2001)
* Singapore International Film Festival (2001)
* Silver Lake Film Festival (2001)
* Chicago Underground Film Festival (2001)
* San Francisco Independent Film Festival (2002)
* Boston Underground Film Festival (2002)

"I also arranged for two industry screenings in Los Angeles and London that I totally financed at great expense in an attempt to find a distributor for the film.

"Tell me, what sense does it make for us to invest one million dollars in a film to let it sit? I truly wish that Penelope had found us an independent backer so we could have finished the project. Let her find us a backer to complete the project and we'll do it."

When it was first screened in 2001, "We Sold Our Souls For Rock 'N' Roll" won "Most Popular Documentary" at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

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