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MY WINNIPEG

Director: GUY MADDIN

CANADA • 2007 • BLACK AND WHITE/COLOUR • DOLBY DIGITAL STEREO • 80 MIN


THE GREAT ICONOCLAST OF CONTEMPORARY CINEMA, CANADIAN FILMMAKER GUY MADDIN HAS PRODUCED A DELIRIOUS PORTRAIT OF HIS HOME CITY OF WINNIPEG, MANITOBA’S COLD, INDUSTRIAL CAPITAL LOCATED NEAR THE GEOGRAPHICAL CENTRE OF NORTH AMERICA.
Although commissioned to make a documentary, Maddin has more accurately described My Winnipeg as a ‘docufantasia’, which suggests we’re a long way here from the deadly sober non-fiction tradition promulgated by the national Film Board of Canada. As if to parody that sometimes patronising form of address, Maddin mixes fact and fiction, old myths and personal memories in a dream-like and sometimes hilarious stream of flickering black and white images and flowery voiceover narration. A big fan of silent and early sound cinema (especially Soviet propaganda epics and lurid hollywood melodramas), Maddin brings his uniquely imaginative style to bear on a personal memoir that’s flagrantly absurd and yet patently heartfelt. it comes as no surprise that Maddin should concentrate on some of his home town’s more bizarre characteristics. Winnipeg, it seems, boasts ten times the number of sleepwalkers per capita than any other city, and once had the world’s smallest park. Maddin recounts many more believable events in the city’s history, but it’s the personal angle that provides the most fertile material for his vivid imagination. As if to further demonstrate the limitations of documentary realism, Maddin recreates episodes from his childhood, staging scenes in his old home but using actors to play himself, his mother and older siblings. By turns provocative, outrageously funny and strangely evocative, it all adds up to a dazzling display of cinematic legerdemain and could well be the director’s finest achievement to date.—Peter Walsh.
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