Guy Maddin’s recent short film, Night Mayor, is a bizarre pseudo-documentary that looks at the life of an immigrant (and his family) from Bosnia who has invented a telemodium (a weird television type contraption) that harnesses the power of the aurora borealis. This spinning contraption transmits images to all corners of Canada. In standard Guy Maddin fashion the 13 minute film flashes by at breakneck speed with short takes, grainy black and white images, and unusual camera angles.
Unlike other Maddin films (or at least the ones I’ve seen so far), Night Mayor has a pretty heavy-handed political message which detracts from the fascinating premise. The government cracks down on immigrants — we get it. The silent film homages are also minimized. I also felt that the telemodium “taking on a life of its own” was somewhat hasty and just feels like an excuse to include some nude women on screen (a Maddin staple).
Other than these rather minimal flaws, Night Mayor is quite moving, visually inventive (oh those swirling machines), and although repeating many of the themes of My Winnipeg it’s very original in its premise. From a non-Canadian’s perspective, Maddin’s attempts to help his country “mythologize itself” (his own words) are succeeding.
Definitely seek it out (free online legally)!