Experiencing Interruptions?


Meet Maputo’s metalheads: After 500 years of Portuguese occupation, followed by 30 years of revolution and war, these tech-savvy urban African millennials are the first generation of Mozambicans to grow up in peace.
The first thing you notice about these kids is they’re just like our kids. Facebook defined a generation. They want the same things, from the latest electronics to the right brand of sneakers. Only their circumstances are vastly different. What we can’t give away in the U.S. is bought on the streets of Africa, from instruments and electronics to underwear and socks.
Like the musicians themselves, Mozambique is barely out of its teens. The problems that plague the country are reflected in the lives of its people: poverty, disease, drug and alcohol abuse, domestic violence, one of the world’s highest HIV/AIDS rates; corruption, crime, high unemployment, the disparity between rich and poor; inadequate access to water and electricity. “Terra Pesada” gives a face to what otherwise are just statistics.
The metalheads are talented, resourceful, creative, ambitious, and usually a delight to be around. Most of them discovered metal online. Yet nobody who hears them play or watches them mosh can say this isn’t their music.

  • Leslie S. Bornstein
  • Leslie S. Bornstein
  • Leslie S. Bornstein
  • Project Type:
    Documentary, Feature
  • Genres:
    Music, Culture
  • Runtime:
    2 hours 3 minutes 35 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    March 6, 2019
  • Production Budget:
    400,000 USD
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
    Mini DVD tapes, 24 fps
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • KUGOMA film festival
    August 30, 2019
  • Oakland International Film Festival
    Oakland, California
    United States
    September 26, 2019
  • Rockfest Film Festival, L.A.
    Los Angeles, online due to COVID
    United States
    December 11, 2020
    Winner of Best of Rockfest Award
Director Biography - Leslie S. Bornstein

Leslie S. Bornstein is a New York–based filmmaker. On her first trip to Africa, in 1972, she met soldiers with Frelimo, the Mozambique Liberation Front, at the Pan African Women's Conference in Tanzania, which sparked her interest in Mozambique and its terrible history. Later she began a long career in publishing and journalism, most of it at Time Inc. magazines. During Iran-Contra, Leslie was the “Sports Illustrated” Latin American correspondent, based in Managua, Nicaragua (“While War Rages, Baseball Remains the National Passion in Nicaragua”; “The Reluctant Author Tries Hang Gliding in Guatemala”), while stringing for NBC Radio. She earned a certificate in film production in 2002 from NYU-SCPS. [Education: St. John’s College (the Great Books school), class of ’68; University of Massachusetts, graduate work in East African studies; NYU and City College of New York, Swahili and Swahili literature; working relationship with Portuguese, Spanish and French.] Since 2000 she has worked as on-camera talent in commercial and print advertising. “Terra Pesada” has fiscal sponsorship from the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) and won a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA).

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Director Statement

I was born to make this film. It combines heavy metal music, documentary storytelling and African history, three of my longest-held interests. I was a rock fan before there was rock; a metal fan before there was metal. I read “Ghana, the Autobiography of Kwame Nkrumah," I think when I was 11 years old. Up until I started this film, I probably saw every documentary that played in New York, and heard a lot more live music, too.

The Terra Pesada Foundation Inc., a U.S.–based tax-exempt 501(c)3 public charity, was established to pay for the continuing educations of the musicians, whatever they’d like to pursue, and to give instruments and amps to the performance venues, rehearsal spaces and music schools, as well as to the musicians themselves. The charter was amended to cover healthcare and disaster relief after Mozambique was hit by two of the world's deadliest cyclones in history within six weeks of each other In early 2019.