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Guy Maddin creates a unique and unusual docu-fantasia in MY WINNIPEG

Guy Maddin creates a unique and unusual docu-fantasia in MY WINNIPEG

MY WINNIPEG (Guy Maddin, 2007) & BRING ME THE HEAD OF TIM HORTON (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson, 2015)
Museum of the Moving Image
35th Ave. at 36th St., Astoria
Saturday, December 12, $12, 2:00
Series runs through December 27

In 2007, Canadian auteur Guy Maddin presented his (maybe) semiautobiographical work My Winnipeg, an insanely brilliant homage to his native city, at the Tribeca Film Festival, where he had previously wowed crowds with his splendid cinematic installation Cowards Bend the Knee in 2003. This past September, Maddin (The Saddest Music in the World, Careful) was at the New York Film Festival, screening his latest feature, The Forbidden Room, along with the fabulously titled Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton, a short he made with regular collaborators Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson and which was shown on a loop for free for two days in the Elinor Bunin Munroe Amphitheater. My Winnipeg and Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton are being paired together December 12 at 2:00 as part of the Museum of the Moving Image series “The Hollywood Classics Behind Walkers,” held in conjunction with the exhibition “Walkers: Hollywood Afterlives in Art and Artifact,” which consists of painting, sculpture, photography, and video that incorporates the art form of cinema. In My Winnipeg, Maddin pays tribute to the long, bizarre history of the title Canadian province, which sits directly in the middle of North America, what Maddin refers to as the “heart of the heart of the continent.” Combining archival footage with re-created scenes, all of which look like faded newsreels and early, degraded prints, Maddin, in voice-over narration, tells of horses buried in ice with their heads sticking out, the Happyland amusement park, Ledge Man, the Hudson’s Bay Company, stampedes, spirit photography and seances, a beauty pageant for men, local scavenger hunts in which the winner gets a ticket out of town, and other strange elements; one of the many joys of the film is not knowing what is exactly true and what is invention, although there is more fact here than you might think. “Everything that happens in this city is a euphemism,” Maddin says, just to keep us guessing. He also gets personal in the film, which he calls a “docu-fantasia,” with many scenes focusing on his mother — or an actress playing his mother. A masterful meditation on memory, My Winnipeg is one of Maddin’s most accomplished, most accessible works, proving him to be the successor to such avant-garde filmmakers as Salvador Dalí and Luis Buñuel (Un Chien Andalou), Stan Brakhage (Dog Star Man), and Orson Welles (F for Fake).

Meanwhile, Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton, whose title references both Sam Peckinpah’s cult classic Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia and hockey player and doughnut entrepreneur Tim Horton, who died in a drunk-driving car accident in 1974 while a member of the Buffalo Sabres, takes viewers behind the scenes of the making of Paul Gross’s 2015 Afghanistan war movie, Hyena Road. Of course, this is no standard DVD-extra documentary but instead an exploration of art, violence, money, hockey, and acting — Maddin gets to play a small role in Gross’s film — among other ideals, inspired by Evan Johnson’s “The Cuadecuc Manifesto,” which was derived from Pere Portabella’s Cuadecuc, vampir experimental film created from footage shot while Jess Franco was making his 1970 version of Count Dracula with Christopher Lee, Herbert Lom, and Klaus Kinski. Got that? Well, it doesn’t really matter, because as with all of Maddin’s films, it’s all about the experience, a melding of sight and sound as only he can deliver. Following My Winnipeg and Bring Me the Head of Tim Horton, the Museum of the Moving Image will be showing Maddin’s latest, The Forbidden Room; unfortunately, the director will not be able to attend that screening, as was originally announced. The series continues through December 27 with such major films as Chinatown, Psycho, The Wild Bunch, and The Last Picture Show, so Maddin is certainly in some pretty fine company.

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