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Friday, 27 June 2008

Guy Maddin's Winnipeg

I saw Guy Maddin's My Winnipeg the other night at the Walker Theatre. There's been so much buzz about My Winnipeg ranging from local papers to the LA Times to that Ebert guy that seeing it was something I simply had to do.

My Winnipeg

I try to support Canadian and local cinema when I can so I have seen two of his previous films: Saddest Music in the World and Cowards bend the Knee . The results were mixed for me. I enjoyed the latter but the former was a bit too long and mystical for my stunted artistic tastes.

This was actually a My Winnipeg evening. A pre-reception followed by Maddin doing live narration of the movie and an interview with Michael Enright afterwards.

My Winnipeg

I spoke with Maddin briefly at the reception and he was a really nice, down to earth guy who was actually a bit nervous about the showing. Not sure what I was expecting but after seeing a couple of his films would have been ready for almost anything !

So, the end result: I really enjoyed the film !

I think he likened one's city to a family. Some parts you love, some parts you can do without. You get the odd scandal but, for the most part, it's the boring routine of family life. In the end, it's your family and you really can never leave it behind.

It was an interesting mix of bio, fantasy and documentary with the lines blurred between the three. In fact, the term he uses to describe it is "docu-fantasia".

I see in Ebert's piece that he, and another reviewer, wanted to keep the lines blurred by not doing fact-checking into what was real and what wasn't. "Is that true? It's as true as anything else in the film. My friend Tony Scott of the New York Times thought he should check out some of the facts in "My Winnipeg," but decided not to. Why should he doubt the film?"

Walker Theatre

A couple of interesting notes from after the film.

He said that the "If Day" footage was a last minute add and actually cut some scenes to be able to fit it in. (The scene was of local actors dressed as invading Nazi soldiers going to various famous restaurants in the city to eat - Kelekis, Rae and Gerry's etc.)

He said he never heard of If Day until he was meeting one of the New York people that was going to work on the film. When he told the guy he was making a film about Winnipeg the guy said - oh, I bet it's about If Day !! Maddin had to research it and liked it so much added it to the movie.

Also, at the end of the performance he introduced a special guest sitting in the loges - his Mom !!

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