If you’ve been at a film festival at the last few months, chances are you’ve bumped into Guy Maddin. The idiosyncratic Canadian director of “Twilight of the Ice Nymphs,” “The Saddest Music In the World” and “My Winnipeg” has a new film, the offbeat haunted house tale “Keyhole” starring Jason Patric and Isabella Rossellini. And he’s been on the festival circuit in a big way, debuting the film at TIFF (read our review from there), before heading to Halifax’s Atlantic Film Festival, and then last month in Berlin (where we interviewed the director) before landing in the last week at SXSW.
We were able to talk to the filmmaker in Austin about the project, as well as what he’s working on at the moment, an intriguing-sounding tribute to lost cinema named “Spiritismes.” Maddin told us,”I just wrapped the first stage of an insanely over-ambitious project, the first eighteen days of shooting at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, a project I’m going to shoot this year. One hundred short films in one hundred days in four different countries, four different public spaces: the Pompidou, MOMA in New York, the Winnipeg Art Gallery in Winnipeg and the Biennale in Sao Paulo… What I’m doing, they’re adaptations of long-lost films, canonical and not so canonical, lost, unrealized and aborted projects. I became really haunted a few years ago by the fact that I just couldn’t see a lot of the great films made by my favorite directors, because they’re gone, they’re lost. 80% of silent films lost, many talkies lost.”
The filmmaker continued with more from his process on the project. “What I do every day in these public spaces, I collect my actors together, we had some of the biggest French movie stars working, and what a thrill it was to work with Charlotte Rampling. All the things I’ve thought about Charlotte Rampling over the years… Mathieu Amalric, Andre Vilm, Geraldine Chaplin, Udo Kier. It was an amazing experience. We would gather these people every day in a salon in the Centre Pompidou, that my new production designer Galen Johnson designed, and constructed by the Pompidou staff,” He explained. “Every day I’d gather my actors around a table, and make contact the miserable spirit of a lost film, and invite it to possess us, and compel us to act out the essence of its long-forgotten story, and like a good little spirit photographer, I’d shoot what they did while possessed. Actors are always going into trances anyway, so you can just tip em over into a trance with just a touch. I did one a day for eighteen straight days, it was exhausting, it took all day and all night. We had it live-streaming on the Pompidou website, MOMA and the WAG will do the same.”
You can listen to, and even download, the full interview, conducted by Playlister Aaron Hillis below. Maddin’s “Spiritismes” project continues throughout the rest of the year.
— Reporting by Aaron Hillis