The lone visionary artist who fantasizes intricate worlds of his own creation has been a fruitful genre for documentarians: Witness In the Realms of the Unreal, about Chicago custodian and outsider artist Henry Darger, and Rocaterrania, about Raleigh illustrator Renaldo Kuhler. In a similar vein is Marwencol, which explores the imaginary world created—and exquisitely photographed—by Mark Hogencamp, a grizzled former alcoholic in upstate New York who suffered brain damage when he was attacked by five men at a bar. He awoke from a coma having forgotten most of his past, so he constructed a new reality in his backyard, using plastic models and Barbie dolls to build Marwencol, a scale model of a Belgian town during World War II, populated by Nazi and Allied soldiers and a gaggle of attractive civilian lasses.
The film has won lots of critical praise and the jury award for best documentary feature at the South by Southwest Festival in March. It's playing today at 1 p.m. as part of the Full Frame Festival's new out-of-season film series, "The Full Frame Fix." The weekend-long mini matinee marathon also features selections from last spring's festival, including Strange Powers: Stephin Merritt and the Magnetic Fields and Diary of a Times Square Thief. All screenings are free. —Marc Maximov