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Review: My WInnipeg

My Winnipeg (IFC Films, IFC Center and Lincoln Plaza Cinemas in New York City)
Dir. Guy Maddin, Written by Guy Maddin and George Toles
Much like offal or the music of Philip Glass, the films of Guy Maddin are an acquired taste. Unlike the first two items on my list, I adore the films of this native son of Winnipeg, Manitoba. I first encountered his works at the International Film Festival Rotterdam in 2003 when both Dracula: Pages From A Virgin’s Diary and Cowards Bend the Knee were screened. The latter was originally screened as a series of peephole vignettes which, interestingly, one had to bend one’s knees, to see. But I digress….
My Winnipeg is a docu-drama cum dreamscape begat nightmare of a vision about a place that is clearly as much a part of Maddin’s being as is his skin, brain or limbic system. What I mean to say is, Maddin is Winnpeg and vice versa. That said, I have no idea if the Winnipeg in the film resembles the “real” Winnipeg at all. What is clear, however, is that it’s Maddin’s Winnipeg, and that’s all that matters. The filmmaker’s trademark style is in full effect and the tale he weaves about the history of Winnipeg (did dozens of horses really flee a fire in the 1920’s only to freeze to death in the river, becoming props for the weekend skaters?) is as engrossing as is is at times ridiculous. That said, you really do leave the film wondering if it’s just possible that the city has a law requiring citizens to allow former occupants of their homes to knock on their door and spend one night (while sleepwalking, natch).
Orange Jell-O, naked Russian ice hockey stars, a weekly TV drama about a jumper called “Ledge Man” and rooftop homeless communities all make appearances in Maddin’s vision of his beloved hometown and while the film is full of trademark-Maddin humorous moments and Winnipeg clearly means a lot to him, it’s sort of like the fantastic, quasi-nightmarish version of a city that a child might create, albeit one you might want to take to a therapist. That said, it’s gorgeously photographed in typical Maddin style, great fun and a loving homage to a city most of us know nothing about. While I might not want to live there myself (far too cold for me, for starters) it’s a fantastic place to visit for 80 minutes and Guy Maddin is a great host.
Photo: The Hollies Snowshoe club visit the frozen horse heads.
Photo credit: Jody Shapiro, © Everyday Pictures Inc.

The Silly Season Begins: Rotterdam and Berlin

Many industries have a part of their calendar year that is referred to as the “silly season.” In European football it’s when the transfer windows are open in the summer and during the month of January and in the marginally independent segment of the film biz in which I find myself, it’s pretty much from January to March. In that space of time you have the Sundance, Rotterdam and Berlin film festivals, the Golden Globe Awards, the Oscar nominations and awards and the Spirit nominations and awards. Whew.

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