Thursday, December 23, 2010

A 'Don't Miss' Documentary Coming to the Shadowbox in Roanoke

"Marwencol," the story of the recovery of a brain-injured and peculiar man, is quite possibly the most engaging documentary I've seen in years. It is a welcome break from the usual run of political horror stories--whose details are all too familiar to most of us--presented in documentary form to those who already know the ending.

"Marwencol" is one you'll have to catch on the run, since it's not playing on the big screens at the traditional movie theaters in Roanoke. Instead, Jason Garnett, who was fired from the Grandin Theater about a year ago in a move that still haunts the theater, has booked it for his Shadowbox Community Microcenima at the Kirk Ave. Music Hall Jan. 7. Mark it on your calendar and don't miss it. I got a look at it tonight on a preview DVD and was both surprised and pleased with the production by Director Jeff Malmberg.

Marwencol is a World War II Belgium town created by Mark Hogencamp as he tries to recuperate physically and mentally from a near-fatal beating from a bunch of rednecks in a bar who find him to be too different from them. They nearly kill him.

Hogencamp's memory is erased and he must rebuild his motor function, which he does by meticulously constructing a miniature village inhabited by American and Nazi soldiers, Barbi dolls and a rich fantasy life. Many of his characters are based on real-life friends and neighbors and the worst of the Nazis are the men who attacked him. He deals with them in his mind and in the village.

Following Hogencamp's rehabilitation all the way to a show of his work in Greenwich Village is fascinating. I strongly recommend a bathroom trip before this film begins. You won't want to break away.

Movies at the Shadowbox cost $5 and you can get a schedule here.

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