My Winnipeg (12A)

Directed by Guy Maddin
Screening at FACT from August 8th 2008

Reviewed by Anthony Swords

Two films showing at Fact this week are both documentaries but anyone hoping to see something along the lines of Louis Theroux will be sorely disappointed. I was not.

The first, My Winnipeg, is Guy Maddin’s homage (or maybe paean) to his hometown. The film plays out like a fevered dream as our director seeks to put to rest the memories and ghosts that remain with him from growing up in what seems like the oddest town on the planet. Maddin’s voice narrates the various childhood stories and weird trivia about Winnipeg that compete for our attention with a rapid editing style, images superimposed upon one another, animated sequences and a cluttered soundtrack. But such techniques serve to create what Maddin believes to be the essence of Winnipeg. The city is apparently a somnambulist’s paradise, a place that never quite leaves winter or twilight behind, where hazy images from the town and the director’s own past collide with the real.

Maddin is more concerned with tackling big subjects of memory, myth and the role of the artist than simply documenting the history of one town. In fact it doesn’t even matter if any of the stories are true as the director plays fast and loose with our perception of reality, hilariously recreating events from the past and using techniques that recreate the feel of old newsreel footage.

Just as ‘everything in Winnipeg is a euphemism’, according to Maddin, so too is this film a euphemism for his personal journey through the psyche. Guy Maddin brilliantly manages to create a hilarious and haunting depiction of the love hate relationship many of us have with our hometown and as much as we might want to escape from it, it will always be apart of us.

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