Tonight on PBS, Remaking a Life in the Made-up World of ‘Marwencol’

BY Jeffrey Brown and Lauren Knapp  April 26, 2011 at 1:03 PM EST

In 2000, Mark Hogancamp was severely beat up outside a bar in Kingston, N.Y. After spending nine days in a coma, he awoke with no memory of his previous life. When he returned home a month later, unable to afford therapy, he struggled to rebuild his life. That’s when he created Marwencol, an imaginary World War II-era Belgium town built in his yard and populated by dozens of dolls representing his friends, family, and even attackers. The town comes alive every day, as Hogancamp acts out elaborate plots with the inhabitants and photographs the scenes.

Hogancamp’s imaginary world is the subject of Marwencol, a documentary by Jeff Malmberg that airs on PBS’ Independent Lens on Tuesday.

Malmberg, a filmmaker and editor, first came across Mark Hogancamp’s photography in ESOPUS magazine in 2005. Malmberg headed to Kingston, N.Y. with hopes of making a short video about Hogancamp and the alternative world he created and photographed. Instead, he found a complex story of therapy, art, and creativity.

I talked to Jeff Malmberg from Los Angeles:

Video produced by Lauren Knapp