The Australian Centre for the Moving Image’s Focus On series is always an excellent way for budding cineastes to introduce themselves to the works of talented filmmakers, or for old hands to revisit favourite directors. And ACMI is presenting us with a doozy this month. Nocturnal Transmissions is a chance for Melbourne audiences to become intimately familiar with the films of Guy Maddin, one of the most powerful, quirky and unique voices in contemporary alternative cinema.
Known for a visual style that attempts to recreate the look and feel of early silent cinema, Maddin’s films are a feast for the senses. Nocturnal Transmissions represents the most comprehensive survey of his career to be held in Australia, not only featuring all of his feature length films, but also many of his delightful short works.
It will also be the first chance for Australian audiences to see his latest film Keyhole, a noir-ish, surreal melodrama about an amnesiac attempting to uncover the familial secrets hidden in his sinister maze of a house. Coalescing many of Maddin’s visual and thematic preoccupations into the one film, Keyhole presents a fabulous launching point into the rest of the program.
Also presented for the first time are two interesting new avenues via which audiences can experience the program. Specially curated Guided Journeys allow for viewers to focus on an overview on three particular Maddin fascinations: horror and taboo, family relations, and amnesia. There is also the opportunity to watch several double bills, where a Maddin film will be screened alongside another film chosen by the filmmaker himself, either reflecting a thematic similarity or a particular influence for Maddin. The pick of these double bills is easily the pairing of Keyhole with the deliciously bonkers 70s Japanese horror film Hausu.
Whether you’re completely unfamiliar with Maddin’s work or are already a devoted follower of his peculiar cinematic vision, Nocturnal Transmissions is bound to charm, disturb or enchant you – the way good cinema should.
Nocturnal Transmissions: The Cinema of Guy Maddin is on at ACMI, Federation Square, from July 5 to 27.