Jeff Malmberg’s critical and audience favorite debuted at SXSW earlier this year, where it won the Documentary Competition. Since then, it’s gone on to win additional awards at the numerous festivals it’s screened, and also been picked up for theatrical distribution by Cinema Guild, opening next month. Before that happens, New York’s signature documentary series, STF, officially kicks off its Fall season with the film next Tuesday.
I’ve been a fan of and champion for this film since before its world premiere. There’s a pure joy to discovering the surprises in this story of a man who turns to his unique form of art therapy to deal with the lasting effects from a brutal beating. The film’s subject, Mark Hogencamp, constructs a 1/6th scale World War II-set Belgian village, the titular “Marwencol,” populated by GI Joes and Barbies representing avatars of himself and people in his life. He documents an elaborate, creative, continuing adventure through a series of shockingly intimate photographs, working through his own traumas through this fictional space. To say much more wouldn’t ruin the film, but it would take a lot of the surprise out of it – suffice it to say, if you like documentaries, you will love this film, and you must see it. Easily my favorite doc of the year – it was secretly my favorite of last year!