Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 26/6/2008 (3191 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
We love him. And he loves us.
At Tuesday night's local premiere of his acclaimed new film, My Winnipeg, the idiosyncratic filmmaker finally got his hometown standing ovation.
His mother, for God's sake, got a standing ovation.
He thanked his closest collaborators, his screenwriter George Toles, his producer and cinematographer Jody Shapiro, his editor John Gurdebeke and his filmmaking pal Noam Gonick.
He did a spectacular job with the live narration of his irony-laden "docu-fantasia" -- 80 minutes without a net -- and he seemed to revel in the knowing belly laughs that emanated from the nearly packed house at the Burton Cummings Theatre.
No doubt he was contrasting the celebratory mood with the sedate one four years ago at the Globe Cinema for the Winnipeg premiere of his first semi-attempt at a mainstream feature, The Saddest Music in the World.
Mind you, he had 'em eating out of his hand when he presented Brand Upon the Brain! in February as part of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra's New Music Festival.
But he might have chalked that up to the thrill of seeing celebrity narrator Isabella Rossellini onstage in the flesh.
In 2004, Maddin seemed to take the Saddest Music reaction as a personal affront. He told many of his friends that he felt the film community was not in his corner.
He sounded a lot like rock legend Burton Cummings, who for years seemed to think his hometown did not pay him sufficient regard. At least until we named a theatre after him.
As Maddin puts it this time out: "Winnipeg, I must leave it. I must leave it. I must leave it now!"
He was worried, of course, that he'd get another local cold shoulder, because My Winnipeg embellishes and invents facts and hilariously portrays the city as a place of perpetual winter where sleepwalkers haunt the streets, where civic leaders are at war with history, and where "demolition is the only growth industry."
Doing interviews with out-of-town media outlets earlier this month, he took the attitude that the best defence was a strong offence.
He told several writers that he hoped his fellow citizens would ride him "out of town on a rail" after they saw My Winnipeg and thus force him to end his equivocation for good.
However, that's not going to happen. On Tuesday night, the audience got the jokes. And they understood that his success with this film is lighting up our city's name in sophisticated locales all over the world.
The movie opens Friday to the general audience in Winnipeg at Silver City at Polo Park. Maybe this is part of the joke, because surely no less appropriate venue exists for it.
Surely an oblique art film -- and despite all the in-jokes and a surface patina of accessibility, My Winnipeg is an oblique art film -- belongs at the Globe or Grant Park, where the grown-up movies usually play, not amid the pandering company of Adam Sandler and Mike Myers.
Among the numerous raves My Winnipeg has received from American critics, one stands out.
It is from Stanley Kauffmann, the 92-year-old critic of The New Republic, whose sense of film history and indifference to popular taste are models for Maddin himself.
"The history of Winnipeg and its importance to a native are no more engrossing in themselves than those matters would be in a hundred other places," Kauffman wrote. "But to analyze Maddin's film in such terms would be like analyzing separately each component of a graphic artist's collage."
Kauffmann calls My Winnipeg "a mobile collage, and its assemblage is fascinating. Winnipeg in itself is relevant only in that it is the spot that Maddin came from and treasures -- and criticizes. It could have been Kansas City or Buffalo."
Exactly. Maddin understands that the specificity of the locale he portrays, even though he really exploring his own fevered psyche, is what gives his film universal appeal.
It's the same, for example, when Bruce Springsteen sings about his New Jersey haunts in Greetings From Asbury Park or when our current great rock-band exports the Weakerthans sing "I hate Winnipeg."
At this point, who knows what's next for Maddin? Most of us hope he stays around town. And most of us also hope he can continue to meet his audience halfway down the road of accessibility, while remaining true to his own vision.
Good work, Guy. This week we love you.