Guy Maddin began his career as a student of economics at the University of Manitoba, where he made two key acquaintances. One was George Toles, a cinema professor who would later become an important collaborator on Maddin's movies. The other was John Paizs, a fellow student who made a considerable impression on Maddin with a series of low-budget, deadpan short comedies. Indeed, Paizs's influence is apparent in Maddin's first short film, The Dead Father (1985), made at the Winnipeg Film Group.
With his first feature, Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1988), Guy Maddin's own signature style became more apparent: deliberately scratchy, non-synched sound, absurdly overwrought dramatic situations, and the meticulous recreation of archaic cinematic codes like intertitles (text inserted into the action) and deliberately non-naturalistic sets, all of which combine in a form of self-conscious but witty post-modern expressionism. Maddin's subsequent features (Archangel, 1990, and CAREFUL, 1992) both refine and expand on this approach, with the latter being Maddin's first foray into full-colour filmmaking. Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997) is a full-colour overheated melodrama with a stellar Canadian and international cast, including R.H. THOMSON, Shelley Duvall, and Frank Gorshin.
In addition to his feature films, Maddin has produced a number of very impressive short films since 1996. These include Odilon Redon (1996) and, most celebrated of all, a short commissioned by the Toronto International Film Festival in 2000 for its 25th anniversary. Maddin's work, a melodramatic love story five minutes in length called The Heart of the World, is a glorious return to his early black and white pastiches of Bunuel, Vigo, von Sternberg, Cocteau, Murnau and Eisenstein.
Maddin's film Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary, based on the ROYAL WINNIPEG BALLET 's version of Dracula, premiered nationally on television in April 2002. It attracted still more international festival and critical attention, and, also importantly to this independent film visionary, investors. Guy Maddin's next feature, The Saddest Music in the World (2003), which revolves around a beer-company-sponsored song contest in Depression-era Winnipeg, starred such international luminaries as Maria de Medeiros and Isabella Rossellini and received wide distribution in Canada and abroad. (Maddin also directed a short film with Rossellini about her fabled father, Roberto Rossellini, My Dad Is 100 Years Old, 2004).
Brand Upon the Brain!, Maddin's feature film made in 2006, premiered with live musical accompaniment, a narrator, and a foley artist at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival in September 2006. It was later presented in the same format at the prestigious 2007 Berlin International Film Festival. A soundtrack version of the film went into circulation, and the film opened at repertory cinemas across Canada in the summer of 2007. Later that year, to great critical acclaim, Guy Maddin released his poetic documentary ode to his home city, My Winnipeg. Promiscuously mixing fact, fiction, and oneiric evocations of the prairie metropolis, the film captured numerous awards, much critical praise, and has even had a book-length study published about it.
Since his successes of 2007 and 2008, Maddin has produced a number of short films and has been celebrated internationally with retrospectives at prestigious festivals such as the Era New Horizons Film Festival in Poland and the International Film Festival Rotterdam, in the Netherlands. Although Canada's most idiosyncratic auteur director, he is also one of its most popular and internationally renowned filmmakers. Guy Maddin's feature film, Keyhole, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011.
Author GEOFF PEVERE Revised: TOM MCSORLEY
Links to Other Sites
This site features a biography of Guy Maddin and brief synopses of his films. From the website for Zeitgeist Films Ltd.
Brand Upon the Brain!
A review of Guy Maddin’s film “Brand Upon the Brain!” From thestar.com.
Tales From The Gimli Hosiptal
About Guy Maddin's “amusingly nonsensical debut feature” in which “a deadly pestilence rages through the idyllic northern Manitoba town of Gimli, sometime in the late 19th century.” From the Filmwest Associates website.
Prairie Visionaries: Guy Maddin and the Winnipeg Film Group
Radio and TV media clips featuring Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin and the Winnipeg Film Group, a filmmakers' co-op that has brought global acclaim to many Manitoba moviemakers. From CBC Archives.
A brief profile of award-winning filmmaker Guy Maddin. From the website for the Canada Council for the Arts.
A review of “My Winnipeg,” Guy Maddin’s award-winning “docu-fantasia" film about his home town. From the media news source “Variety.”
Guy Maddin inspired by railway man film for NFB anniversary short
An interview with Winnipeg-based director Guy Maddin about "Night Mayor," a film made in commemoration of the National Film Board's 70th anniversary.
Review: My Winnipeg
A review of Guy Maddin's film "My Winnipeg." From the canada.com website.
Reinhabiting Lost Languages: Guy Maddin’s Careful
This essay examines the cinematic and culturual influences that have shaped Guy Maddin's approach to filmmaking. From the website for Will Straw, PhD, McGill University.
Watch Guy Maddin's film "Night Mayor" for free on the National Film Board website.
Governor General's appointments to the Order of Canada
Scroll down the page and click on the links to brief biographical notes of recent appointees to the Order of Canada. Click on "Find a Recipient" on the left side of the page to find previous recipients. From the website for the Governor General of Canada.
TIFF Bell Lightbox’s Noah Cowan on his top picks for Essential Cinema
A news story about the Essential Cinema exhibit at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. Mentions Guy Maddin's Hauntings I and II and other film projects. From the National Post website.
Winnipeg filmmaker Guy Maddin on life as a Berlinale juror
An article about Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin's role as a Berlinale juror. From thestar.com.
Shawnadithit grew anxious waiting for her uncle, Longnon, to return to camp at the junction of Badger Brook and the Exploits River, deep in the wilds of Newfoundland...