November 18–20, 2011

7 pm and 9 pm


Film Society of Lincoln Center

Walter Reade Theater

165 West 65th Street, New York, NY



$25 in advance / $30 at the door

$20 / $25 for Performa and Film Society members / students / seniors

Available at or


New York, NY, October 19, 2011 — Performa and the Film Society of Lincoln Center are pleased to announce the first-ever solo Performa Commission by a filmmaker, Guy Maddin’s Tales from the Gimli Hospital: Reframed, to be presented at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater from November 18-20, 2011, as part of Performa 11, the fourth edition of the new visual art performance biennial.

A unique live cinematic and musical event, Tales from the Gimli Hospital: Reframed transforms acclaimed filmmaker Guy Maddin’s classic first feature film into a live performance—conceived and directed by Maddin himself—that focuses on the Icelandic subtext of the original film, drawing out its humorous approach to Icelandic-Canadian mythology as well as the inherent subjectivity of all storytelling. With a new score created by composer Matthew Patton in collaboration with a superstar group of Icelandic musicians, including members of múm and amiina, plus Seattle-based music and Foley collective Aono Jikken Ensemble, and a new script written by Maddin, the performance will be narrated by the bewitching Icelandic singer Kristin Anna Valtysdottir (the former frontwoman of múm, also known as Kria Brekkan) in a dramatic mixture of singing and speaking.

As part of Performa 11, the acclaimed New York biennial of live performance by visual artists (which has previously presented live work by film and video-based artists such as Isaac Julien, Tacita Dean, Candice Breitz, and Omer Fast) this work also marks a major foray for Maddin into the New York art world.

A cult sensation when it was released theatrically in 1988, the original Tales from the Gimli Hospital tells the dreamlike, elliptical story of the jealousy and madness instilled in two men sharing a hospital room in a remote Canadian village. This surreal film first propelled Maddin to international prominence, became an unprecedented success on the midnight movie circuit, and is now being reinvented in an entirely different way by this performance.

For Tales From the Gimli Hospital: Reframed, Maddin has re-edited the original version of Gimli, adding more impressionistic stories-within-stories, including parts of his short film Hospital Fragments (2000). The breathtaking new score similarly takes the film in a very different direction, with layers upon layers of music drawn from different sources, reflecting the “nested doll” structure of the film, and an ethereal tone that draws out the darkest and most haunting elements of Gimli’s storyline.

This performance brings the Icelandic subtext of the original film front and center by bringing together a group of Icelandic musicians to write and perform the stunningly gorgeous new score, frequently singing and talking in Icelandic as part of it. Gimli, the setting of the film, is a Canadian village that was founded by Icelanders in the 1870s, when they fled their own country because of a volcano eruption (some of Maddin’s relatives were part of this initial group of settlers). The storyline of the film is very loosely inspired by some of the Icelandic sagas, and many of the bizarre customs seen in the film—like using oil squeezed from fish as hair gel, or “glima wrestling” (macho fighting in which two men smack each others’ buttocks)–are Maddin’s own hilariously idiosyncratic takes on specific Icelandic traditions.

This new score was written collaboratively by Canadian composer Matthew Patton, Icelandic musicians Kristin Anna Valtysdottir, Gyda Valtysdottir (also formerly of múm), Borgar Magnason, and Maria Huld Markan Sigfusdottir (of amiina), and three members of the Seattle-based Aono Jikken Ensemble (Willliam Satake Blauvelt, Dean Moore, and Naho Shioya). The Icelandic musicians play string instruments and sing, while Aono Jikken Ensemble performs live “Foley” sound effects (through the frequently ingenious use of unexpected props on stage, all in full view of the audience), percussion, and ambient sound. On top of this all, Kristin Anna Valtysdottir performs her narration—playing the parts of both of the lead male characters in the film in her enchanting, elfin voice, in addition to singing and playing guitar. Acclaimed audio engineer Paul Corley will also create live sound design for the performance that adds even more layers of crackly, textured distortion and spaciousness to the sound. Through all of these remarkable live elements, in Tales From the Gimli Hospital: Reframed, Guy Maddin brings his original artwork to life in a sublime and unexpected new way.


About Guy Maddin

Inspired by the aesthetics and melodramatic flourishes of silent cinema, Central European literature and the desolation of his native Winnipeg, Guy Maddin has fashioned a career like no other. Maddin was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba: the coldest and most central city in North America. His filmic output to date—nine feature-length projects and innumerable shorts—is a remarkable canon of fantasia. His first feature, Tales from the Gimli Hospital, appeared in 1988, and became a midnight-movie classic. His second, Archangel, won the U.S. National Film Critics Award for best experimental film. Since then he has won many other awards – including the Telluride Silver Medal for life achievement in 1995, the San Francisco International Film Festival’s prestigious Persistence of Vision award in 2006, and many more – and created dozens of beguiling films in his unique personal style. These include such celebrated feature works as The Saddest Music in the World (2003); Brand upon the Brain! (2006); and My Winnipeg (2007). Maddin is also a writer and teacher, and occupies the position of Distinguished Filmmaker in Residence at the University of Manitoba.

About Performa 11

Performa 11, the fourth edition of the internationally acclaimed biennial of new visual art performance presented by Performa, will be held in New York City from November 1–21, 2011. The three-week biennial will showcase new work by more than 100 of the most exciting artists working today, in an innovative program breaking down the boundaries between visual art, music, dance, poetry, fashion, architecture, graphic design, and the culinary arts. Presented in collaboration with a consortium of more than 50 arts institutions and 25 curators, as well as a network of public spaces and private venues across the city, Performa 11 will ignite New York City with energy and ideas, acting as a vital “think tank” linking minds across the five boroughs and bringing audiences together for brilliant new performances in all disciplines.

Founded in 2004 by art historian and curator RoseLee Goldberg, Performa is the leading organization dedicated to exploring the critical role of live performance in the history of twentieth-century art and to encouraging new directions in performance for the twenty-first century. Performa launched New York’s first performance biennial, Performa 05, in 2005, followed by Performa 07 (2007), and Performa 09 (2009). For more information, visit

About the Film Society of Lincoln Center

Under the leadership of Rose Kuo, Executive Director, and Richard Peña, Program Director, the Film Society of Lincoln Center offers the best in international, classic and cutting-edge independent cinema. The Film Society presents two film festivals that attract global attention: the New York Film Festival, and New Directors/New Films which, since its founding in 1972, has been produced in collaboration with MoMA. The Film Society also publishes the award-winning Film Comment Magazine, and for over three decades has given an annual award—now named “The Chaplin Award”—to a major figure in world cinema. Past recipients of this award include Charlie Chaplin, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, Meryl Streep, and Tom Hanks. The Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming, panels, lectures, educational programs and specialty film releases at its Walter Reade Theater and the new state-of-the-art Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center. The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from Royal Bank of Canada, 42BELOW, American Airlines, The New York Times, Stella Artois, the National Endowment for the Arts, WNET New York Public Media, the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit


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