CINEMA: The Incredibly Strange World Of Marwencol


LA WEEKLY: I came to the SXSW Film Festival this year at the invitation of the film festival, to serve on its Documentary Feature jury. At tonight’s awards ceremony, I was proud to present our Grand Jury Prize to Marwencol, Jeff Malmberg’s documentary on Mark Hogencamp, an artist/alcoholic left with brain damage after a bar brawl, who deals with his disability by creating and photographing a 1/6th scale WWII-era Belgian town in his backyard, populated by Barbie-doll surrogates for himself and other members of his real world. Marwencol stood out from the competition pack for a number of reasons, but as I noted at the ceremony, for me the most refreshing thing about it was that it seems to fuse several different strands of contemporary non-fiction filmmaking that rarely seem to coexist within the same film. It’s a film about social issues (mental disability, alcoholism, sexual identity) that presents itself in an extraordinarily personal way, with Hogencamp’s story unfolding so organically that it seems as though the subject is talking directly to the viewer, slowly revealing more of himself as one would with a strander-turned confidante, as they slowly earn our trust. To get a sense of Hogancamp’s incredible work, check out his website–particularly, this post, in which the artist first introduces Malmberg’s film into his fantasy world. MORE

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