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Touched By Ghosts: Keyhole Director Guy Maddin and Jason Patric


Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin chose to film his most recent project, Keyhole, in his hometown of Winnipeg, like many of his other movies. Jason Patric, who plays Maddin's lead character, Ulyssis Pick, specified that it was actually mostly in "an old factory" and "a toilet pump room". In the case of Keyhole, location had a much more serious role to play than just providing the surroundings - it became a key antagonist in the tale, stepping in for Homer's sea and islands in this re-interpretation of The Odyssey.

The film also stars Isabella Rosselini as Hyacinth - a version of The Odyssey's ever-waiting wife, Penelope. The TIFF website has tagged the film as "Experimental & Avant Garde", "Fantasy", "Crime",  "Adventure" and "Canadian".

Here's what Guy had to say in our interview...

GM:  It did seem dark and haunted in every corner, the toilet pump room. I do believe, when I try to tell a story, I become a believer in ghosts as a memory that just won't let go of your head. Whether you remember someone touching you from behind with a clammy hand, or if you're haunted by the memory of loved ones or places long gone, I like the idea of these memories being the characters that haunt a house.

Did you ever experience any ghosts or spirits in your own childhood home?

GM: I'd love to say I believe in ghosts, but I don't. When I first met Jason I was telling him about this nervous disability I have. I got a cold in my spinal cord in 1990 and it left me with mini seizures that feel like little ghosts are touching me, about 10 times a minute, every few seconds. Just little touches, you know. I shot one movie where I told the ghost hands to tell me where to place the camera. But those are just neurological impacts of the cold...but they touch you everywhere!

Did you read The Odyssey in high school?

GM: I read The Odyssey about a year before I made this movie. I was mostly dealing with how memories resonate with a house. I needed a plot and I visited The Odyssey because it's still around and has a durable structure that I found fit perfectly with my feelings of loved ones in a home. That's what Homer was talking about. A deadbeat dad. You could tell what he was dealing with.

You're not known to make genre films but, is 'Keyhole' a scary movie?

GM: It's the closest I've ever been to creating a genre film. People always think they're criticizing me when they say it's impossible to categorize my films. I reply, "Well, thank you!", and they say, "No, that's a bad thing". I set out to make a genre, a noir, and then it turned into this. I can't help going a little Baroque and...broke, at all times (laughs).

But still not a traditional "scary movie", right?

GM: I became obsessed with the way certain rooms in living quarters provide a sense of comfort that you get. Little things like a bow of a branch or a cardboard box can produce a flood of nostalgia that's so sad, it's happy, and all those complicated things. For every action, there's a reaction. I was trying to recreate a feeling I get in my dreams where I find myself back in my youth. I'm so happy to be there that it's sad, and it's sad when I wake up because I want to be back in my dream.

Read more about Keyhole on the TIFF website.



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