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Canada, 1997 (MIFF 1998, International Panorama)

Director: Guy Maddin

Canadian director Guy Maddin burst onto the scene in 1985 with an alternately hilarious and grotesque short about grief, The Dead Father. It would be lazy to join the chorus of critics referring to Maddin as the new David Lynch as all the pair really share is a uniquely strange view of the world and the ability to render their unusual vision on-screen in an unforgettable fashion.

Twilight ol the Ice Nymphs is set in a quasi-mythical region where strange everyday behaviour and language is the norm. After years of wrongful imprisonment for his political beliefs, Peter Glahn sails back to his homeland of Mandragora, a far northern province where the sun never sets. Peter is enchanted, literally, by Juliana, a woman he meets on the ship home.

Arriving back at the family ostrich farm (!), Peter returns to a cycle of lust, pagan magic, fringe scientific experimentation, murder and infidelity. He falls in love for a second time with a beautiful but treacherous fisherman's wife, Zephyr Eccles, before discovering that the spellbinding Juliana is partnered with mad scientist, Dr Isaac Solti.

The film's beauty is hypnotic and totally absorbing and Maddin's unique directorial style illuminates the whole like a malfunctioning lighthouse beam, alternately understated and over the top. The first significantly budgeted feature by a director that stands alone in his approach to modern cinema, Twilight of the Ice Nymphs is certain to be the film that brings Guy Maddin to a major audience.

Guy Maddin, born in 1956, was one of the founders of the Winnipeg Film Group. After a number of shorts and the experimental feature Tales from the Gimli Hospital (1988), Maddin quit his bank job to concentrate on cinema. His previous work includes at least nine highly regarded shorts and the features Archangel (1990) and Careful (1992).

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