directed by Jeff Malmberg
I posted a trailer last year for a film that I was dying to see, a documentary about a man traumatized from a beating that left him comatose for 9 days. The trailer for that documentary, titled Marwencol, moved me in a very visceral way, and the doc in its entirety is a thing I haven’t come across in some time: a powerful, mesmerizing and very moving glimpse into the world of a true artist. Mark Hogancamp, who had to start from scratch after waking from the coma that erased much of his former self, went through physical and psychological therapy in order to regain what had been lost, relearning how to write and walk. When he was unable to continue traditional therapy, Mark developed his unique regimentation designed to help his fine motor skills and his most important asset, his imagination. The result is Marwencol, a 1/6 scale Belgian town at the height of WWII, home to soldiers and civilians who have carved out a precarious existence ever shadowed by the threat of the SS. American soldiers live alongside French, British, and even non SS German soldiers, spending much of their time in Hogancamp’s bar, The Ruined Stocking. I will say no more about the doc’s arc, but the most magical, haunting and genuine element of this film is Mark himself, working out his demons, his frustrations and his deepest desires through his medium of choice. His art is true blue, and as human portrait Mark’s story is one at once familiar, dear, and foreign. Sometimes, all you need to do as a documentarian is turn on the camera and try to keep up, though Malmberg shows that he knows his way around a camera and an editing room. Malmberg’s resume may look less than illustrious (his most notable endeavor was editing The Hottie and the Nottie, ugh), but hey, we all have bills to pay. If the Academy had its druthers, Marwencol would have been up for Best Documentary last year.