Marwencol

Trailer (2:17)
Clip 1 (:31)
Clip 2 (:36)
Clip 3 (:36)

About the Film

Mark Hogancamp kneels in front of a toy jeep containing soldier dolls as he prepares to shoot a scene. Mark Hogancamp pulls a toy jeep beside him as he walks along a country road.

On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside a bar in Kingston, New York, by five men who beat him literally to death. Revived by paramedics, Mark had suffered brain damage and physical injuries so severe even his own mother didn't recognize him. After nine days in a coma and 40 days in the hospital, Mark was discharged with little memory of his previous life.

Unable to afford therapy, Mark decided to create his own. In his backyard, he built Marwencol, a 1/6th scale World War II-era town that he populated with dolls representing his friends, family, and even his attackers. He used the small dolls and props to redevelop his hand-eye coordination, while he dealt with the psychological trauma from his attack through the town's many battles and dramas.

Mark started documenting his miniature dramas with his camera. Through Mark's lens, these were no longer dolls — they were living, breathing characters in an epic WWII story full of violence, jealousy, longing, and revenge. And he (or rather his alter ego, Captain Hogancamp) was the hero.

When Mark's stunningly realistic photos are discovered and published in an art magazine, his homemade therapy suddenly becomes "art," forcing Mark to make a choice between the safety of his fictional town and the real world he's avoided since his attack.

Shot over the course of four years, Jeff Malmberg's documentary intertwines the dual realities of Mark Hogancamp to tell the whole story of Marwencol — a surprising tale of love, secrets, pain, and adventure.

The Filmmaker

The bearded director holds a small video camera and looks off into the middle distance.

Marwencol is Jeff Malmberg's directorial debut. The award-winning film premiered at the SXSW Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary. As director, Jeff was honored with the HBO Documentary Films Emerging Artist Award at Hot Docs. Jeff produced and edited Red White Black & Blue, which aired on Independent Lens in 2007.

As a film and television editor, Malmberg's credits include the critically acclaimed BET documentary series American Gangster, TV One's Unsung, A&E's Biography, ESPN's SportsCentury, and numerous shows for the History Channel. He is a graduate of USC's School of Cinematic Arts.