Fiercely Primitive: The Films of Guy Maddin Plus Director's Choice

October 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 16, 17, 20, 27, 30, 31 at Pacific Film Archive
Director in person, October 8, 9, and 10

PFA is delighted to present a major retrospective of the work of Guy Maddin, with seven features and five short films by the director, including the Bay Area premiere of his latest work. We will also screen nine features selected by Maddin for the PFA series "Director's Choice." Maddin will appear in person on October 8, 9, and 10 to introduce his work as well as the films he has selected.

Since his debut as a director in the late 1980s, Guy Maddin has gained a cult following for his witty, provocative, and visually stunning melodramas. His work is informed by an abiding passion for cinema history; his films often borrow the creaky techniques of the silent era, yet Maddin's style and obsessions are uniquely his own. In 1995, Maddin was the recipient of the Medal for Lifetime Achievement at the Telluride Film Festival; he is the youngest person ever to have been awarded that honor. In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Maddin is a prolific writer and a regular contributor to Film Comment and The Village Voice. The son of a Canadian hockey coach, Maddin still lives and works in his native Winnipeg.

We are proud to present the Bay Area premiere of Maddin's latest, the acclaimed Cowards Bend the Knee, a delirious autobiographical psychodrama that harks back to cinema's peepshow roots. The Saddest Music in the World, released last year and based on a screenplay by Kazuo Ishiguro, stars Isabella Rossellini, Mark McKinney, and Maria de Medeiros in a tongue-in-cheek tale of a Depression-era contest offering a cash prize to the nation producing the world's most sorrowful song. Also screening is Maddin's first feature, the cult hit Tales from the Gimli Hospital, a twisted saga about lonely Icelandic immigrants attended by saucy nurses during a smallpox epidemic in turn-of-the-century Manitoba.

Maddin's second feature, Archangel, won the U.S. National Society of Film Critics' prize for Best Experimental Film of 1990 with its lyrical and ironic tale of love and amnesia in WWI Russia. Incestuous fantasies torment the repressed residents of an Alpine village in Careful, a deadpan, demented pastiche of German mountain films. Twilight of the Ice Nymphs features Shelley Duvall in a gorgeously kitschy fantasy, and Maddin delivers a fresh take on two genres-the dance film and the vampire movie-in the filmed ballet Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, screening on Halloween.

Shorts in the series include Maddin's first effort, The Dead Father; The Heart of the World, widely praised since its premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in 2000; Odilon Redon; It's a Wonderful Life, set to a tune by Sparklehorse; and the recent Sissy-Boy Slap-Party.

For PFA's "Director's Choice," Maddin has chosen classic and forgotten films ranging from the beautiful to the bizarre. The lineup includes several great noirs: the heartbreaking Face Behind the Mask, with Peter Lorre; Leave Her to Heaven, in which Gene Tierney plays out a deadly daddy complex; and circus saga Nightmare Alley, with a memorably sleazy Tyrone Power. Paralyzed vaudevillean Lon Chaney rules an African ivory-poaching operation in Tod Browning's West of Zanzibar, and Cecil B. DeMille's fabulously decadent spectacle The Sign of the Cross stars Charles Laughton as Nero. Also featured are Max Ophuls's elegant romantic roundelay La Ronde and Frank Borzage's exquisite silent love story Seventh Heaven, shown with live piano accompaniment. The Road to Glory is an underrated war melodrama directed by Howard Hawks from a William Faulkner script. Finally, in The Naked Jungle, a special surprise feature screening on October 30, Charlton Heston plays a pathologically jealous South American plantation owner plagued by armies of red ants.

Screenings are held in the PFA Theater, located at 2575 Bancroft Way near Bowditch Street on the southern edge of the UC Berkeley campus. General admission to these programs is $8 for one film, $10 for double bills. There are reduced prices for members, students, seniors, children under 12, and persons with disabilities.

Click for series schedule. For further program and ticket information, call (510) 642-1412.

Posted by admin on October 08, 2004