Live & Onstage
USA/Canada, 2006, 95 minutes
Mon, May 7 / 08:00 / Castro / BRAN07C
A companion piece of sorts to the exceptional silent installation-feature Cowards Bend the Knee, the semiautobiographical Brand upon the Brain! mines the rich territories of director Guy Maddin’s youth and spins them into a delirious fantasy of familial discontent. At the edge of the sea stands a lighthouse, once the location of an orphanage. There, some years ago, lived Guy and Sis, a brother and sister under the constant observation of their mother yet entirely ignored by their father, an ingenious inventor. When Wendy Hale, amateur harpist and half of twin detective team the Lightbulb Kids, arrives to investigate a mysterious regenerative nectar harvested from the orphans, things grow ever more complicated. A love triangle becomes a quadrangle when Wendy masquerades as her brother Chance and goes in search of clues. A fever dream of Freudian impulses and horror show theatrics, Maddin devours 100 years of film history whole and, like the ersatz Guy’s painting of the lighthouse, covers the screen with a 12-chapter outpouring of his various obsessions. Brand upon the Brain! is Maddin’s eighth feature-length film in nearly 20 years (he’s made some 20 shorts during this time as well), and the first to be filmed outside his native Canada (and, therein, his first "foreign" film). At this special screening, the film’s original score will be performed live by a 13-piece ensemble, with three onstage foley artists, a benshi-like narrator and a castrato adding to the fun. SFIFF favorite Maddin received last year’s Persistence of Vision Award, and this year will be on hand again to see his latest masterwork augmented by a particularly gifted lineup of performers.
Brand upon the Brain Orchestra: Jason Staczek, conductor Kate Campbell, piano; Laura Albers, Rebecca Jackson, violins; Phyllis Kamrin, Betsy London, violas; Renata Bratt, Kristina Forester, cellos; Alicia Telford, Nicky Roosevelt, French horns; Ward Spangler, Jim Kassis, percussion; Sebastian Thomas, soprano; Beth Custer, concertmaster. Foley by Footsteps: Andy Malcolm, Goro Koyama, Caoihme Doyle, Anna Malkin, Don White.
Sponsored by the Consulate General of Canada. Presented in association with the San Francisco Silent Film Festival.