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Entertainment News: ‘Marwencol’ Gets Best Doc Nom

Winner of the Comic-Con’s Best Doc Award Reaps More Honors

Mark Hogancamp setting up for a photo in the documentary

Credit: Cinema Guild

Above: Mark Hogancamp setting up for a photo in the documentary "Marwencol."

As I have mentioned before I like to follow the progress of films that I feel a connection to so I am happy to report that the marvelous documentary "Marwencol" that won the Best Documentary Award at this past Comic-Con International Film Festival has just nabbed a Best Doc nom at the Independent Spirit Awards.

It is great to see a small and truly independent film rise through the ranks to get the recognition it deserves. This quiet, well-crafted film focuses on Mark Hogancamp and the fantasy world he creates with Barbie-size dolls. Hogancamp was beaten into a brain-damaging coma by a group of men outside a bar. As a kind of "therapy," Hogancamp built a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard and populated it with dolls representing his friends and family. The film takes its name from the name he gave the town. He also began taking life-like photographs of the town and the people in it. A New York gallery discovers his photos and deems them worthy of a show. This is both flattering and a bit troubling to the reclusive Hogancamp.

Filmmaker Jeff Malmberg meticulously documents Hogancamp's work and recovery. Recently we've had a spate of faux documentaries and films so wrapped up in their own cleverness that it's refreshing to have an old school documentary in which the filmmaker is more interested in his subject than in himself. Malmberg respects his subject and intrudes just enough to give us an amazing window to Hogancamp's world. The film is superbly crafted and Hogancamp's photos are great.

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Cinema Guild

One of Mark Hogancamp's photographs.

The film is playing limited engagements around the country and is scheduled to air on PBS in the spring. I met one of the film's producers, Kevin Walsh, at Comic-Con in July. After receiving the Independent Spirit nomination on Tuesday, Walsh told me, "It's been a great year for documentaries, so we're really thrilled to be nominated alongside so many amazing films. Even more than 'Marwencol' itself, Mark and his art perfectly embody the independent spirit and it's great to see him honored in this way."

Director Malmberg was also thrilled by the nomination. He told me, "'Marwencol' was made entirely independently as a volunteer effort over a number of years so for the film to be recognized with two Spirit Award nominations is both a surprise and a huge honor. I think it speaks to the power of Mark's story and his strength and spirit that the film has connected with audiences in the way that it has. My hope is that the Spirit Award nominations will help shine a light on someone who we can all admire for his courage and imagination."

The film's second nomination is for the specialty award Truer Than Fiction. The Spirit Awards are on February 26 and I'm crossing my fingers that "Marwencol" takes home a prize. I hope the trailer for the film will whet your appetite and make you want to see more.

Trailer: 'Marwencol'

The trailer for the independent documentary "Marwencol."


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Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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