“Maddin Mania” is the unofficial title that Kay Armatage, chair of the Cinema Studies Institute, gave to this week’s events celebrating Canadian director Guy Maddin. The actual—but less exciting—title is “Guy Maddin: Brand Upon the Brain,” a program of lectures, screenings, and discussions being presented by the Jackman Humanities Institute at the University of Toronto that aims to explore the nature of confession.
Maddin’s films are the perfect subject for that exploration. While his style takes inspiration from early silent films and melodramas, his post-modern approach gives his films an otherworldly quality that often feel more genuine—and more revealing—than other films. And that seems to be Maddin’s goal. At a lecture held on Tuesday at Innis Town Hall, the director explained that “the truth is uninhibited.”
Approaching the podium, Maddin admitted to having the “jitters” but proceeded to win the at-capacity audience with his insightful and clever analysis of his work, which he called the “filmic equivalent of a punk band or my daughter during arts and crafts hour.” Maddin played clips from a variety of films that have influenced him, including The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, L’Age d’Or, and Duel in the Sun.
Maddin will be present again tonight for a screening of My Winnipeg, which was recently named one of the best films of the decade by TIFF Cinematheque (as well as his 2000 short, The Heart of the World). The original film features narration by Maddin, who will be recreating it in a live performance this evening. (Having seen the screening of Brand Upon The Brain! that took place in 2007 with live narration, a castrato, foley artists, and an orchestra, Torontoist strongly recommends not passing on the opportunity.)
Brand Upon The Brain! plays at Innis College on Friday evening, following an afternoon roundtable discussion about Maddin’s films that features Kay Armatage, Elizabeth Legge (chair, Department of Art), Steven Shaviro (Wayne State University), and Torontoist’s own John Semley (UT-CineAction).
If you can’t make it to this week’s events, The Heart of the World and My Winnipeg will play again at the Cinematheque next month as part of their program, “The Best of the Decade: An Alternative View.”