When Noah Cowan, former director of the Toronto International Film Festival, told Guy Maddin he didn’t think it was possible to make art on the Internet, the legendary Canadian filmmaker took on the challenge and began a long journey to create Seances, a bizarre / intriguing / fascinating interactive cinematic experience that was created entirely for the internet age.
So what is it exactly?
Seances is basically an indefatigable film generating machine that deliberately creates experimental films only to destroy them after their one and only viewing.
Each time you click on the site, a customized algorithm using software devised by Halifax-based Nickel Media rummages through Maddin’s trove of scenes and pulls together a 10- to 13-minute film that has never been seen before and will never be seen again. Even the title is unique.
Part interactive movie, part art installation, it was conceived of and shot by Maddin over a period of four years in Paris and Quebec. It was produced in conjunction with Evan and Galen Johnson, and the National Film Board of Canada.
The shoots were also presented as art installation projects, during which Maddin, along with the cast and crew, held a “séance” during which Maddin “invited the spirit of a lost photoplay to possess them.”
Maddin also used old lost films as sources. Some were historically important: the first Dracula film, the first Filipino feature, the first Chinese mystery film. Refilling those empty husks with new content was an homage not just to lost cinema in general, but to particular landmarks of the medium.
Watch the trailer below and be sure to experience Guy Maddin’s Seances on the NFB page here.