Well, I didn’t see my name in the official credits, but I assure you, I did a scene in this film that has yet to come out upon posting. The videos might not play when you catch this, but maybe they will in the future, otherwise something is wrong with their player. This is all I have for you right now, courtesy of Janet Shum.
TIFF Bell Lightbox will be haunted by a series of short film installations that are meant to invoke and appease the ghosts of cinema. Starting from the premise that every filmmaker has an unrealized project, a half-finished or abandoned film doomed to oblivion or left on the cutting-room floor, Maddin will produce a series of shorts that explore the lost history of cinema. Hauntings I involves eleven projections in the main gallery space showing recreated fragments of lost or unrealized film masterpieces. Hauntings I will be presented at TIFF Bell Lightbox’s main gallery space from September 12 to October 23.
The ghosts of cinema loom large in Guy Maddin’s body of work. Hauntings, a series of very short films commissioned for the opening of TIFF Bell Lightbox, makes explicit his fascination with these cultural spectres; his first comment upon seeing our building under construction was that “this place needs some ghosts.” Both a cheeky commentary on the idea of an essential films list and a harrowing exploration of the regret and weakness felt by cinema’s great masters, this is both Maddin’s most expansive work in terms of the sheer size of its palette and his most personal. For years, he has been collecting tales of unrealized, half-finished or abandoned films, potential masterworks doomed to oblivion as they slipped out of their creators’ control. This impulse rhymes remarkably well with Maddin’s thematic obsession with regret and the perils of wild abandon found in both his film and installation works.
The series is deployed in two separate locations. Hauntings I involves eleven projections of reclaimed fragments of cinema’s lost history. Maddin collaborated with poet John Ashbery to turn tales of lost films into actual scripts with lengths set between thirty seconds and five minutes, depending on the complexity of the found material. Shot in Winnipeg earlier this year and starring Fassbinder legend Udo Kier and Maddin regular Louis Negin, the fragments range from lost avant-garde projects by Hollis Frampton (left on a subway) and Michael Snow, to lush dramas from F. W. Murnau and Oscar Michaud. The projections crowd the front part of the new main gallery, like ghouls from an alternate reality confronting and questioning visitors as they enter and exit the space that celebrates our “sanctified” Essential 100 films.
Hauntings II is an original work based on inspirational moments from the making of Hauntings I. (A fragment of fragments, if you will). It involves a vast, ethereal curtain that gradually reveals a siren of cinema, meant to beckon visitors to enter TIFF Bell Lightbox and become entranced by her cinematic offerings. Hauntings II spans the length of the building’s northern bank of windows on the fifth floor every night of the Festival.