Dinca — contemporary art blog

The Short Films of Guy Maddin: It's My Mother's Birthday Today (Video)

Guy Maddin’s The Heart of the World (2000)

In the world of cinema, the early career of a filmmaker typically is that of the short film. During this momentous filmmaking period, the filmmaker normally produces 5, 10, sometimes 15 shorts films; the work of this period may bring success, failure, or a little of both, but these are trivial matters; the experimenting of this period is what takes precedence; the filmmaker logs invaluable time in experimentation, and in these experiments, the filmmaker starts to chase a certain aesthetic, a certain vision, certain motifs, and certain peculiarities; the filmmaker will continue to chase these ideas throughout his or her entire career, and this is the chase that will define the filmmaker’s career. In other words, short films are important.

In regards to the short film, Guy Maddin is a unique case — he often produces a handful of short-films between the release of his feature-length films; most directors say adiós to the short-film after they become a feature-length film director; however, a large chunk of Maddin’s prolific filmmaking career is composed of short films — Maddin’s short and feature-length films rarely differ in greatness.

Maddin, a renowned filmmaker from Canada, is best know for his feverish hyper-expressionist films, namely, My Winnipeg (2007), Careful (1992), The Heart of the World (2000), The Saddest Music in the World (2003), and Brand Upon the Brain! (2006). These are films that draw influence from — and pay homage to —  the surrealist films of the 1920s and ’30s and the German-expressionist films of the 1920s and ’30s, and Maddin often pay tribute to the silent film; sometimes Maddin films are black and white, some are a mix of black and write with dashes of color, and if his films do have sound, Maddin, to varying extents, pursues a low fidelity sound, i.e. that of the early talky films, the ’50s Fredrico Fellini film, and so forth.

Starting with this post, DINCA will periodically be posting video of Guy Maddin short films in their entirety.

It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today (2008)

A film by Guy Maddin (2008, Canada, 5 min, B/W)

Today we feature It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today, a five minute short that was featured in the supplements on the Criterion Collection’s release of Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain!.

The film follows a man and his eggs, a birdcage, chirping birds, and dust covered chirping children, all presented through a frantic and dizzying edit. According to Maddin, this is to serve as a short biopic on the castrato know as the Manitoba Meadowlark, Don Houle, who performed on tour with Brand Upon the Brain.

Enjoy! More Guy Maddin shorts to be posted soon.

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