Movie Information

The Asheville Art Museum and Fanaticon2 are presenting Marwencol for one show only at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, at the Fine Arts Theatre. Admission is $8 for Museum Members and $10 for nonmembers. Seats may be reserved by contacting Nancy Sokolove, Adult Program Manger for reservations at (828) 253-3226 ext. 120 or at
Genre: Documentary
Director: Jeff Malmberg
Starring: Mark Hogancamp
Rated: NR

Jeff Malmberg’s unique documentary Marwencol is a strangely touching work—that very carefully sidesteps the pitfall of exploiting its subject. “Marwencol” is the name of a fictional town in Belgium created by Mark Hogancamp as a creative and therapeutic outlet after an attack outside a bar in his upstate New York town left him brain-damaged. It’s also quite literally a state of mind. It’s Hogancamp’s idealized—almost utopian—dream of a WWII where everybody—natives, Germans, British, Americans—follow the rules of the town and make themselves get along. Such violence as occurs is, in his own words, created for entertainment purposes only. (This does not, however, prevent outbursts of sometimes quite disturbing violence when lines are crossed—which happens depending on his frame of mind.) It’s Hogancamp’s world—people with dolls and action-figures representing friends playing the various roles—reduced to 1/6 scale. Malmberg’s approach to shoot these tableaux as if they were staged scenes from a nonexistent movie (that maybe does exist in Hogancamp’s mind) is remarkably effective—as is the drama that occurs when his fantasy world is suddenly seen as art, something that threatens to thrust him uncomfortably back into the real world. A rich and compelling little documentary.

About Ken Hanke
Head film critic for Mountain Xpress since December 2000. Author of books "Ken Russell's Films," "Charlie Chan at the Movies," "A Critical Guide to Horror Film Series," "Tim Burton: An Unauthorized Biography of the Filmmaker."

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