Filmmaker Guy Maddin says that watching a movie has more in common with a paranormal séance than meets the eye; he remembers the first time he realized that the French word for a movie screening is "séance," which translates into "a sitting." Both activities take place in the dark; both are enchanting; both evoke spirits from the past who have been separated from their physical bodies. Attempting to resurrect lost movies -- films improperly stored and turned to vinegar, destroyed to make room for new stock or abandoned in closets (in 1981, the original cut of Carl Dreyer's The Passion of Joan of Arc was found in a janitor's closet in a mental hospital in Oslo Maddin says) -- the filmmaker holds public séances where he puts actors into a trance and shoots his own adaptations of missing films. He sees himself as a spirit guide summoning the sad souls of lost movies. "I've been shooting one film in public per day. I did three weeks in Paris, two in Montreal, and I'm always looking to shoot more. I wanted to shoot a hundred films for one hundred days, but it looks like it's going to be more like seventy," says Maddin, who will be performing a séance and participating in the Brakhage Symposium at the University of Colorado Boulder this weekend.
Guy Maddin Filmmaker Guy Maddin resurrects the ghosts of silent cinema in his 2000 film The Heart of the World.