Maddin Haunts Winnipeg

After first debuting in Toronto, and travelling overseas for a stint in Paris, Guy Maddin’s Hauntings 1 multi-screen installation is coming home.

As part of a joint collaboration between WNDX (Winnipeg’s Festival of Film and Video Art) and the Platform Gallery, Hauntings 1 showcases work that is at once both curatorial and original. The installation itself presents films from the past, some lost and some unfinished, as though they have been resurrected, ghosts of a past time.

The gallery is dressed to resemble that of a haunted house, the films are projected against unique mediums, such as bed sheets and cheesecloth. An eerie soundtrack filters through the space.

In a recent conversation with the Manitoban, Maddin explained how the project came together through the contributions of a few different creative minds.

“Former ’Toban editors Evan Johnson, Caelum Vatnsdal and I decided to research the plots of 11 movies that once defined the zeitgeists of their eras but are now, for various reasons, lost, never to be seen again, except in our own filmic séances. Now they’re to be projected in Winnipeg’s Artspace building, which is over a century old and already haunted with gobs of creepy history. It’ll be ghost versus ghost in that building,” says Maddin.

Indeed, ghosts of every kind flit in and out of this exhibition, all of them the works of such filmmakers as F.W. Murnau, Fritz Lang, Hollis Frampton, Victor Sjostrom, Jean Vigo, Kenji Mizoguchi, and Josef Von Sternberg.

Projections from the past inhabiting the present can be moving in a very eerie way — perhaps similar to the feeling of a ghost passing through your body. Maddin suggests that this may not be something exclusive to film, or in this case old film being re-imagined.

“We are always looking at people as they once were but no longer are, doing things they no longer can do exactly that way, a past locked forever in its time, whether it’s just seconds or decades ago,” says Maddin.

There is a reason, however, that Maddin has chosen to represent this feeling of haunting with film. Film, says Maddin, is a haunted medium.

“Certainly all the other art forms can be haunted as well, [ . . . ] but film is what produces the most ectoplasm sweat on my brow.”

As far as future projects go for Maddin, it may be that this installation has revealed some of the hauntings going on in his own work as well.

“Now it seems I’m not even interested in a film unless it’s somehow about a haunting, and by that I mean about ghosts, and by ghosts I mean memories. For what are ghosts but memories, yours or those of someone else, rattling their chains around in your head?” 

Don’t hesitate to visit Maddin’s haunted house this September. Allow the past to blend, if only for a moment, with the present. Re-experience and re-write these lost moments of history in whatever way your own imagination sees fit.

The installation runs from Sept. 2 – Oct. 2 at the Platform Gallery, main floor of the Artspace building, 100 Arthur Street. There will be an artist talk at 3 p.m. on Oct. 1, followed by a closing night party at 11 p.m..

For the full, unedited interview with Guy Maddin, please visit