2010 | Documentary | 83 minutes | In English
On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked and beaten outside of a bar when five thugs found out he was a cross-dresser. After being in a coma for nine days, he spent an additional 40 days in the hospital. He was discharged when the hospital personnel felt they could not rehabilitate him. Mark was brain-damaged and could hardly walk, eat, or speak. Occupational therapy was an option, but without insurance Mark couldn’t afford it. However, he was determined “not to let those thugs win.” His self-designed therapy was to build a miniature World War II-era Belgian town in his yard he called Marwencol, a blending of Mark, Wendy, and Colleen. He meticulously constructed the town’s infrastructure and inhabited it with the locals and with toy soldiers. His creation was discovered by photographer David Naugle, who deemed it a work of art. Mark was now torn between continuing to develop Marwencol or becoming an art celebrity.
Why Stream This Film?
- Rotten Tomatoes Score (Critics Consensus): 98%
- Metacritic Score: 82
Winner, Best Documentary at these major film festivals: South by Southwest (SXSW), Seattle International Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, Whistler Film Festival, Cleveland International Film Festival
Winner, Best Documentary: Boston Society of Film Critics
Entertainment Weekly: Listed in the article “50 Best Movies You’ve Never Seen”
SLATE Magazine: Marwencol listed #1 in the 2012 article “The Golden Age of Documentaries: the Best Docs of the Last 5 Years”
Now streaming on:
Four years in the making, MARWENCOL emerges as a number of things: an absorbing portrait of an outsider artist; a fascinating journey from near-death to active life; a meditation on the brain’s ability to forge new pathways when old ones have been destroyed. Woven together by Jeff Malmberg—if not seamlessly, then with illuminating patience—these disparate strands honor an individual as unique as the miniature universe on which he depends.
Watching MARWENCOL, Jeff Malmberg’s probing documentary on Hogancamp’s undertaking, is an exhilarating, utterly unique experience. The film isn’t standard man-triumphing-over-adversity fare, though that is the essence of the story. It is rather a celebration of the transformative power of art in coping with so many challenges people face—healthcare problems, post-traumatic disorders, and alternative lifestyles.
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