Guy Maddin calls his "My Winnipeg" a "docu-fantasia," and there's no reason not to take him at his word. This haunting phantasmagoria of a film -- comic, singular, surreal -- is not only something no one but the Canadian director could have made, it's also a film no one else would have even wanted to make. Which is the heart of its appeal.
Maddin, an alternative cinema legend for one-of-a-kind films like "The Saddest Music in the World" and "Brand Upon the Brain!," has lived in that Canadian city, apparently known as "the heart of the heart of the continent," for his entire life and has been more than content to do so.
Using his customary aesthetic tools, including a fondness for melodramatic silent film techniques and an ability (working with cinematographer Jody Shapiro) to make scratchy, faded black-and-white footage look unexpectedly beautiful, Maddin has made an evocative homage to a city he clearly loves.
Part civic history, part fantasy, part personal psychodrama, "My Winnipeg" is unusual in that it's often hard to tell from moment to moment which part is which.
The film's central notion is that after all these years Maddin (played by actor Darcy Fehr) is desperately trying to escape Winnipeg's wintry grasp. To do so, he has to take a half-real, half-imaginary dream train through his own past, revisiting the people, places and events that meant the most to him.
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