|8:50 p.m.||Cowards Bend the Knee|
Guy Maddin (Canada, 2003)
"Cowardice!! The New Sexy!!!" squeals Maddin about his silent "autobiography" involving beauty salons, cowardice, femmes fatales, a father's severed hands (and the daughter who wants them sewn onto her lover's arms), orgies, and the Soviet national ice hockey team. A John Waters plot filmed by a Super-8–cranking Eisenstein, Cowards continues Maddin's fixation on Soviet silent film, but its wondrously overheated visual aesthetic seems inspired by more modern devices: sudden zooms, shaking cameras, a black-and-white lighting scheme seemingly controlled by a nine-year-old off his Ritalin (and a cast that appears to have been mainlining it). Like any good autobiographer, Maddin polishes his past to a fetishized gleam, with memories unfolding as if through hypnosis: fragmented, slowed to a crawl, and unusually lurid. Originally commissioned for Toronto's Power Plant art gallery, Cowards was designed as an installation to be viewed through peepholes, increasing its voyeuristic thrills and recalling film's notorious beginnings in the disreputable realms of fairgrounds and peepshows, where cowards and perverts bent their knees for a peek at thrills denied, and passions described.
• Written, Photographed by Maddin. With Darcy Fehr, Melissa Dionisio, Amy Stewart, Tara Birtwhistle. (60 mins, Silent, B&W, BetaSP, From Zeitgeist)