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The extraordinary goings-on in a town called Marwencol

Mark Hogancamp, who lost much of his memory in an attack, creates photographs of life in a fictional, Nazi-oppressed town. A documentary captures the work that remakes his life.

November 07, 2010|By Mark Olsen, Special to the Los Angeles Times

The film manages to be at once straightforward with Hogancamp's story and enigmatic with many of its details, as it builds to Hogancamp's first major art show as its narrative spine. The way Malmberg treats certain parts of Hogancamp's life — the revelation of key personal information, his ongoing physical and emotional issues and the lingering mystery of the attack itself — is not to create a series of cheap-shot "spoilers" but rather to upend any preconceptions that audiences might have about Hogancamp and his work.

As Malmberg explained, the film's structure and careful accumulation of information was "a function of trying to present it back to the viewer in the same way I experienced it. So they would have the opportunity to have their expectations constantly overturned until you realize here's somebody you might have dismissed initially as somebody playing with dolls, and he's really way stronger than you might be.

"I think we put people in boxes too easily, and once we let them step out of it there is something much more beautiful there and engenders in the audience a deeper sense of respect and understanding."

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