Synopsis by Mark Deming
After a night of drinking at a bar in his hometown of Kingston, NY, Mark Hogancamp got in a fistfight and was beaten so badly he went into a coma. When Hogancamp regained consciousness, he was diagnosed with brain damage and struggled to return to a normal life. As he tried to put his life back together, Hogancamp came up with an unusual hobby -- using G.I. Joe action figures and Barbie dolls, Hogancamp created an elaborate scale model community in his backyard that he calls Marwencol (named for three characters he's dubbed Mark, Wendy, and Colleen). Marwencol is supposed to be a village in Belgium during World War II, and the scene is full of intrigue and military violence; several of the characters also represent his friends and relatives, and one is based on a married neighbor with whom he's infatuated. Marwencol provides Hogancamp with a fantasy world he can retreat into as he deals with the realities of his life following the beating, but the parallels into his real life are troubling to some people he knows, and when a gallery in New York City offers to present Hogancamp's project as an art installation, he has to decide if he's really willing to share Marwencol with the world at large. Filmmaker Jeff Malmberg profiles Mark Hogancamp and the world he created from toys and his imagination in the documentary Marwencol, which received its world premiere at the 2010 South by Southwest Film Festival.
brain-damage, fantasy, hobby, recovery [health]