Brand Upon the Brain! (2006): Guy Maddin’s Magical Silent Film

Director Guy Maddin, responsible for such extraordinary cinematic experiences as “The Saddest Music in the World and “Twilight of the Ice Nymphes, has made another magical silent film, Brand Upon the Brain!

His new spectacular feature will be presented as an expansive live event in select cities, featuring an 11-piece live orchestra, a 5-person live Foley (sound effects performed onstage) team, and a live celebrity narrator, and Castrato supplementing the filmic image, to comprise a one-of-a-kind cinematic spectacle.

Maddin will appear in person to present the film during these exclusive live engagements in select historic movie palaces in Chicago (The Music Box), New York (The Village East) and Los Angeles (The Egyptian Theatre).

“Brand Upon the Brain!” world premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival in the historic Elgin Theatre. It has since been performed with live accompaniment at the 2006 New York Film Festival, the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival the 2007 Mexico City Film Festival, and the 2007 Buenos Aires Film Festival. Following presentations of this unique stage production, the film will continue in those cities as a regular run (with a pre-recorded soundtrack including narration by Isabella Rossellini) as well as others nationwide, beginning in May. “Brand Upon the Brain” will also be presented live for one night, on May 7 as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival. The film is distributed in the US by The Film Company and Vitagraph Films.

Featuring an original score by Jason Staczek, “Brand” has been earning unqualified raves during its nine months run on the festival circuit, including Festival-best mentions at the 2006 Toronto Film Festival, 2006 New York Film Festival, and the 2007 Berlinale.

Surreal, satiric and surprisingly touching, Maddin’s film looks at the secret lives of families in a work that’ equal parts childhood reminiscence, Expressionist horror movie, teen detective serial and Grand Guignol reverie.

Whatever are young Guy Maddin’s parents really up to in their lighthouse home/orphanage on a chilly remote island Overbearing Mother (Gretchen Krich) tracks her son (Sullivan Brown) every move, bellowing for him to come home over the “Aerophone” just as something interesting is about to happen! And poor Sis (Maya Lawson), his older sister (who is rapidly blossoming into a young woman); Mother will never let her have any fun!

The intrigue continues as deranged Mother, hellbent on restoring her youth and sinister Scientist-Father (Todd Jefferson Moore), who is sequestered night and day in his basement laboratory, engage in diabolical, secret experimentation. When new parents of recently adopted children from the orphanage notice strange wounds on the youngsters’ necks, a pair of teen sleuths, Wendy (Katherine E. Scharhon) and her brother Chance, known as “The Lightbulb Kids,” appear on the island to investigate, and in the process, inspire Guy’s first crush and Sis’ first love affair. The lurid family secrets that unfold are positively shocking!

The film was written and directed by Guy Maddin. George Toles is the co-writer. The original score is by Jason Staczek. Benjamin Kasulke is the Cinematographer. The film is Executive Produced by Jody Shapiro, Philip Wohlstetter and A.J. Epstein. The Associate Producer is Brian Grant. Amy E. Jacobson and Gregg Lachow are the Producers.

Maddin’s first production shot outside of his native Winnipeg was produced by The Film Company, a Seattle-based independent film studio founded in 2004 by filmmaker Gregg Lachow (who directed/produced his own modern day “silent” film with live components, “Silence!” in 2001). Lachow collaborator Jamie Hook is Co-President with Lachow.

The Film Company supports artists, not projects, providing all the support and collaboration necessary to create a feature film.