With the premiere of his new data-driven cinematic storytelling experiment, Guy Maddin joins us to present some of the Forum’s favorites from his filmography, including Careful (on 35mm!) and My Winnipeg.
** Curated by Film Historian Dr. Jeffrey Crouse for Seattle’s unique pairing of Guy Maddin’s acclaimed Seances video art installation together with a mini-retrospective of the Canadian auteur’s career **
“I’m a primitive, and L’Age d’Or and Eraserhead will always be my touchstones,” Guy Maddin told The Guardian‘s Jonathan Romney in 2015, paying homage to cinema’s greatest surrealists – Buñuel and Lynch – whilst declaring his own commitment, and contribution, to exploring hallucinatory dream worlds through visual media. The youngest person to earn the Telluride Medal for Lifetime Achievement in Film, Maddin is that rare film artist nowadays: a genuinely independent, wildly imaginative director in an era where corporatist franchise cinema dominates. By consistently choosing to opt for narratives that showcase his outrageous wit, obsessive knowledge of film style and history (in this he actually outshines fellow fanboys Scorsese and Tarantino), and long before “polysexuality” became a cultural buzzword, Maddin has, like Jean Vigo, Jack Smith, and the Kuchar brothers, consistently presented a film aesthetic built around daringly quirky tales of erotic attraction, fixation, and the vagaries of lust. Insofar as underground film exists today, he occupies his own ceremonial kiva.
Besides being a filmmaker, Maddin’s creative output also includes several books and, in conjunction with Evan and Galen Johnson as well as The National Film Board of Canada, has created his unique Seances (Spiritismes) video installation. As committed to the dreamscape of silent cinema as a Rudolf Arnheim or Kevin Brownlow, Seances seeks to resurrect the spirits of films lost to history, largely, although not exclusively, those made before the coming of sound. It does so using an algorithm that mixes more than thirty films shot for the project at Paris’s Georges Pompidou Centre and Montreal’s Phi Centre to form a one-of-a-kind movie that, once seen, disappears forever. Toward this end, Maddin cast actors Geraldine Chaplin, Udo Kier, Charlotte Rampling, Matthieu Amalric, Maria de Medeiros, Kim Morgan and others for these newly generated short films, each with a running time lasting just over what used to be a reel of film (around 12 minutes). Going further than even Vertov, Maddin, ever the postmodernist, has, in the words of Vice News, created an “interactive film project [that] explores the idea of ephemeral filmmaking with a machine as the director.”
Seances, which has been successfully exhibited not only in Paris and Montreal, has also played at NYC’s Tribeca Film Festival and in St. Petersburg, now comes to the Rainy City – but with a difference. Here it arrives together with a small retrospective of his motion pictures, including the arch-Freudian “family romance” melodrama Careful (1990) and his Criterion Collection-worthy My Winnipeg (2008). As an added Halloween treat, Maddin himself will be on hand for a Q&A session after each of the three films.