Guy Maddin High Fives Nate


A couple of weeks ago, Nate attended the Provincetown Film Festival,  where he met acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin. They became fast friends and after talking for hours, Maddin handed Nate $1 million to develop his new screenplay.

Well, not really. But the good news is, Maddin wrote Nate a very endearing e-mail.

Here’s an excerpt from his note (I decided not to editorialize any of it in order to maintain Maddin’s voice):

“What, what a wise, intuitive and sharply written quasi-manifesto your email was. I agree with every oword of it. YOu’re onto something that will help students and filmmakers alike — I think so many filmmakers, especially ourt poor Canadian directors, need to read your lesson in clarification. Our whole country would benefit and maybe we wouldn’t have to watch the inept naturalism, the literal-minded banalities, of our national work. Ugh! It was great meeting you. I cherish your wondrous usb thingy! Wonderful and exciting stuff! YOu’re a man on the rise.”

And in case you’re wondering about the quasi-manifesto Guy describes, you can read it below. Like the French New Wave directors, Nate is quite the film critic/theorist, as you can see. He is currently working on an actual, informal, filmmaking manifesto, describing a philosophy he describes as FAKISM. See it here soon!

“Something occured to me about your films. I think in a movie there’s kind of a battle between the style of the film and the content. I mean like, they are these two competing forces.
I often observe that the more stylized a movie feels, the less “naturalisitic” or “Imitative of my experience.”  The content has less verisimilitude and feels more contrived. Conversely, when I see a movie that I’d describe as “naturalistic,” it seems to achieve that effect by making formal choices that are deliberately “Unstylized.” These movies seem more interested in just focusing on the subject and not adding any technique. The former category would consist of movies like Goodfellas or Il Divo, while the latter category would be like a mumblecore movie, frozen river, rachel getting married.  Scorsese describes this distinction as interpretation vs. observation. Stylized movies are interpreting the subject whereas naturalistic movies are observing the subject. It seems a real challenge to achieve both. I see this as a problem because I want to achieve a sense of verisimilitude, but I hate HATE HATE how boring naturalistic movies look. I’m actually trying to spearhead a film movement that I’ve called “fakism” as a reaction to all these realistic films. I can send you the manifesto if you want. I suppose the movies would be a bit like some of matisse’s paintings.

But if you think about it, a pastiche (conscious or not) is a solution to the problem I presented. In the case of the pastiche, style is salient, whether it’s “careful” emulating german expressionist films or Kill Bill emulating kung fu films. There are techniques required in order to emulate these films that make the films less like our experience (again, compared to a movie like frozen river). The editing style of “heart of the world” is not like my experience (compared to Frozen River) but the editing style is very similar to the soviet films of the 20s. However, a pastiche film is like a naturalistic film in how it’s “Imitative.” It emulates a reality that we are familiar with. This reality is not our “human experience” but it is a “movie experience” nevertheless. Moreover, it’s a reality we have experienced by being exposed to a bunch of other movies that the pastiche references. In this way, the pastiche reconciles the problem. A pastiche film is stylized while achieving a sense of reality. And that’s what your movies do! Now, I will admit that there are some stylized films that achieve a sense of reality and are not pastiche films. But I would argue that these movies have deliberately “reigned in” their style in order to allow a sense of reality. When you do see a film with unadulterated style, like Natural Born Killers, it’s unwatchable (I think). I also just want to let you know that I appreciate watching your films because of your focus on universal themes. I hate current events films, I think their significance is so ephemeral. It’s like watching the news.”


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