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‘Sound of Metal’ by local brothers up for Best Picture, other Academy Awards

  • Riz Ahmed, shown in a scene from “Sound of Metal,” has been nominated for Best Actor in a Leading Role. AMAZON STUDIOS VIA AP

  • Darius Marder of Ashfield and his brother, Abraham Marder of Amherst, stand outside the Greenfield Garden Cinemas ahead of the release of their new film, “Sound of Metal,” in December. STAFF FILE PHOTO / ANDY CASTILLO



Staff Writer
Monday, March 29, 2021

With an April 25 ceremony date, nominations for the 93rd Academy Awards have been cast. “Sound of Metal,” a film written and directed by Darius Marder of Ashfield, along with his brother, Amherst musician Abraham Marder, has received the nod in six categories, including Best Picture.

The film, which was released on Amazon Prime in December, has so far been met with critical acclaim and a host of accolades from more than 40 film associations — among them the Golden Globe Awards, the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the British Academy Film Awards and the Zurich Film Festival, at which “Sound of Metal” won best international film.

“It’s profound to feel people connecting to the film, especially amidst such difficult times,” Darius Marder, who grew up in Conway before embarking on his cinematic career in New York, said about the recent nominations. He returned to Franklin County a short time before “Sound of Metal” was released digitally last year.

“Also, seeing my cast and crew — who stepped up and believed in ‘Sound of Metal,’ put it all on the line, against all odds — now getting recognition is immensely satisfying for me. I feel like a proud papa.”

The Oscar nominations for “Sound of Metal” include: Best Actor in a Leading Role, for Riz Ahmed’s portrayal of a drummer who suddenly becomes deaf; 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.

Darius Marder’s drama first premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival.

Shot on 35 mm film, “Sound of Metal” tells the story of a traveling musician recovering from a drug addiction who must learn to navigate a world devoid of sound. Emotionally, it’s an immersive soundscape — an aspect of the film Abraham Marder played a particularly strong role in, given his musical background, Darius Marder said in an interview when the film was released on Amazon Prime — that is as intense as it is moving.

The emotional resonance of “Sound of Metal” extends beyond its source material. While he can’t personally relate to deafness, Darius Marder noted the film is at its core about identity — what happens when it’s suddenly taken away? The film’s antagonist, Ruben, grapples with this question in a visceral way throughout.

“Sound of Metal” is a story about the search for inner peace — the kind that only starts to settle after the credits have started rolling. In learning to accept his hearing deficiency, Ruben is forced to either confront or flee from his more abstract psychological demons.

The film can be viewed at any time digitally on Amazon Prime. The 2021 Academy Awards will take place at Union Station Los Angeles and the Dolby Theatre at the Hollywood & Highland Center on Sunday, April 25.