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Montreal Premiere

  • USA 2010
  • 84 min
  • HD
  • English
WINNER: Grand Jury Award, South by Southwest 2010
WINNER: Grand Jury Award, Cleveland International Film Festival 2010
WINNER: Special Jury Award, Independent Film Festival Boston 2010
WINNER: Emerging Artist Award, Hot Docs 2010

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"Bizarre and endlessly fascinating" — BOSTON PHOENIX

"So engaging it’s almost interactive" — LA WEEKLY

"5 stars... One of the best movies you’ll see this year" — EYE WEEKLY


Director: Jeff Malmberg
Cast: Mark Hogancamp
Producers: Jeff Malmberg, Tom Putnam
Print Source: Cinema Guild/ KinoSmith

Part of...

Documentaries From The Edge   

Documentaries From The Edge



Meet Mark Hogancamp. In April of 2000, Mark was attacked outside a bar and literally beaten to death. Though Mark was revived by paramedics, he spent nine days in a coma, awakening brain-damaged and so badly battered that his own mother didn’t even recognize him. His entire memory was in tatters. And so, having lost his own history, Mark went home on release and set about creating a new one, a fictional world called Marwencol. Built from Barbie dolls and scale-model army toys, Marwencol began—at least partially—as a way to regain fine muscle control in his hands, it quickly became something much larger and far more significant. An alternate history of a life he may have had, a wishful projection of a life he would like to have, an organic self-made exercise in emotional therapy, a grand work of art. Marwencol is all of these things and a great deal more besides.

Filmmaker Jeff Malmberg has spent the past four years documenting Hogancamp’s life and work, and the results are astounding. Like the best works of Errol Morris, Malmberg’s film hooks you in with the sheer oddity of Hogancamp and his creation, the extreme otherness of the man and his work inspiring a sort of voyeuristic curiosity, before subtly turning things on their head until the audience comes to the realization that they’re really no different from Hogancamp at all. Malmberg has created here an impressive portrait of both the man and his work, the long hours spent getting to know his subject and the years of built-up trust paying enormous dividends in a sense of comfort, ease and total unguarded honesty from Hogancamp. And given Hogancamp’s past, trust is surely not something easy to gain from him. Though Hogancamp’s story is one of extremes and radically unusual circumstances, it is also enormously affecting and emotional because it is, at its core, a perfectly universal tale. Hogancamp’s art is the art of loneliness, the work of a man creating a community for himself where none exists.

—Todd Brown

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