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Marwencol cover photo

Marwencol 2010

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Cinema Guild, 115 West 30th Street, Suite 800, New York, NY 10001; 212-685-6242
Produced by Jeff Malmberg
Directed by Jeff Malmberg
DVD, color, 88 min.

General Adult
Art, Biography, Disability Studies, Photography, Psychology, Rehabilitation, World War II

Date Entered: 01/07/2011

ALA Notable: ala.gif
Reviewed by Linda Frederiksen, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA

One night in 2000, Mark Hogancamp was brutally attacked as he was leaving a local bar in Kingston, NY. He suffered severe brain damage and other physical injuries. After nearly two months in the hospital and in the beginning stages of therapy, his medical benefits were exhausted. Still physically and mentally scarred, he began his own form of rehabilitation by creating a miniature world, called Marwencol. The inhabitants of this World War II Belgian village are male and female dolls, representing people he knows from his own community, including his attackers, and others. After several years, he began taking 35 mm photographs of the dolls in various situations and storylines. Through his work with the dolls and his photography, Mark improved his small motor skills and was able to come to terms with some of the trauma he endured. Originally intended as private therapy only, Mark’s photographs were discovered by a neighbor, published in an independent cultural magazine and then exhibited at a New York City art gallery, where his work caught the attention of critics and collectors.

Both Mark and Marwencol are unique and complex subjects for a documentary film. The winner of numerous festival awards, the result is independent narrative non-fiction at its best in that it is nearly transparent. Combining brief interviews with Mark and others, Jeff Malmberg follows Mark in the days leading up to his gallery exhibit. Viewers are given access to the subject and content of the film without interference from the director and it is engrossing. An unusual story that is skillfully presented, the film is highly recommended.


  • SXSW Film Festival 2010 – Grand Jury Award Winner
  • Hot Docs 2010 – Emerging Artist Award Winner
  • Silverdocs 2010 – Cinematic Vision Award Winner
  • Seattle Film Festival 2010 – Grand Jury Prize Winner
  • Boston Film Festival 2010 – Special Jury Award Winner
  • Cleveland Film Festival 2010 – Grand Jury Award Winner
  • Fantasia Film Festival 2010 – Best Documentary Winner
  • Comic-Con 2010 – Best Film Winner