The Wretched Newspaper, the latest Guy Maddin movie, was screened on Tuesday, but you’ll never be able to watch it.
In fact, as Winnipeg-based director Maddin said, it is already gone forever.
That’s because Maddin’s latest movie project, called Seances, is just as much project as it is movie.
Maddin, along with co-creators Evan Johnson and his brother Galen, have created a web-based film that is assembled and generated in endless ways using cloud-based video and audio compositing to give each viewer who logs into nfb.ca/seances a unique title and story to watch. The project is produced by the National Film Board (NFB).
The emphasis is on unique, said Maddin, director of My Winnipeg and The Saddest Music in the World. "The film you saw is lost now forever," he said during an interview on Tuesday. "I never saw The Wretched Newspaper and I never will. It is gone."
Most viewers will see Seances on a computer screen, but Maddin said it had its world premiere at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City.
"The NFB set up a small 12-seat theatre there," he said.
Tribeca founder and actor "Robert DeNiro was the first person to see Seance in public. I was too nervous to see what he watched — he and (NBC’s Today show’s) Al Roker, actually."
Maddin doesn’t know what DeNiro thought of the movie, but whatever the actor saw is lost forever, too.
But Winnipeggers can have a chance of seeing something like what DeNiro saw from Thursday until Feb. 18, when the installation version of Seances will be at the University of Winnipeg’s Gallery 1C03 as part of the Moving Images exhibition. Maddin and Evan Johnson will be there, in conversation with Alison Gillmor, in the Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall on Thursday at 7 p.m.
"There’s real beauty in randomness," Maddin said. "But it was really labour-intensive. It was a five-year project and I’ve never worked on something for five years. I’m used to things taking a year or two."
Maddin said they initially filmed 60 hours of story snippets and then they filmed alternative versions, and added more to that as well as title cards and words for movie titles. He said the result is tens of thousands of hours of possible film versions.
"It’s as if you were dreaming an early cinematic dream before you were born," he said. "We’re pretty proud of this."