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Guy Maddin’s Brand Upon the Brain!: Not Just a Film, It’s a Live Event

Brand Upon the Brain! official poster

BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! will be presented as an expansive live event in select cities, featuring an 11-piece LIVE orchestra, a 5-person LIVE Foley (sound effects performed onstage) team, and a LIVE celebrity narrator, and Castrato supplementing the filmic image. Confirmed narrators thus far include Crispin Glover, Peter Scarlet, and Isabella Rossellini. Filmmaker Guy Maddin will appear in person to present the film during these exclusive live engagements in select historic movie palaces in Chicago (The Music Box), New York (The Village East) and Los Angeles (The Egyptian Theatre). Following presentations of this unique stage production, the feature film BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! will continue in those cities as a regular film run (with a pre-recorded soundtrack including narration by Isabella Rossellini as well as others) nationwide, beginning in May. BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! will also be presented live for one night, on May 7th as part of the San Francisco International Film Festival.


Surreal, satiric and surprisingly touching, Maddin’s film looks at the secret lives of families in a work that is equal parts childhood reminiscence, Expressionist horror movie, teen detective serial and Grand Guignol reverie. Guy Maddin’s latest delirious creation is a silent film like none you have ever seen before.

Whatever are young “Guy Maddin’s” parents really up to in their lighthouse home/orphanage on a chilly remote island? Overbearing Mother (Gretchen Krich) tracks her son’s (Sullivan Brown) every move, bellowing for him to come home over the “Aerophone” just as something interesting is about to happen! And poor Sis (Maya Lawson), his older sister (who is rapidly blossoming into a young woman) — Mother will never let her have any fun! The intrigue continues as deranged Mother, hellbent on restoring her youth and sinister Scientist-Father (Todd Jefferson Moore) who is sequestered night and day in his basement laboratory, engage in diabolical, secret experimentation. When new parents of recently adopted children from the orphanage notice strange wounds on the youngsters’ necks, a pair of teen sleuths, Wendy (Katherine E. Scharhon) and her brother Chance, known as “The Lightbulb Kids,” appear on the island to investigate — and in the process, inspire Guy’s first crush and Sis’ first love affair. The lurid family secrets that unfold are positively shocking!

BRAND UPON THE BRAIN! world premiered at the 2006 Toronto International Film Festival in the historic Elgin Theatre. It has since been performed with live accompaniment at the 2006 New York Film Festival, the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival the 2007 Mexico City Film Festival, and the 2007 Buenos Aires Film Festival. It is scheduled to be part of the 50th San Francisco International Film Festival at the Castro Theatre in May.