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MARWENCOL poster 72dpi.jpg
Directed by Jeff Malmberg
Produced by Jeff Malmberg
Tom Putnam
Matt Radecki
Chris Shellen
Kevin W. Walsh
Starring Mark Hogancamp
Music by Ash Black Bufflo[1]
Edited by Jeff Malmberg
Open Face
Distributed by The Cinema Guild
Release date
  • October 8, 2010 (2010-10-08)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $38,000

Marwencol (also known as Village of the Dolls in the UK[2][3][4]) is a 2010 American documentary film that explores the life and work of artist and photographer Mark Hogancamp. It is the debut feature of director-editor Jeff Malmberg.


On April 8, 2000, Mark Hogancamp was attacked outside of a bar by five men who beat him nearly to death. After nine days in a coma and forty days in the hospital, Mark was discharged with brain damage that left him little memory of his previous life. Unable to afford therapy, Mark creates his own by building a 1/6-scale World War II-era Belgian town in his yard and populating it with dolls representing himself, his friends, and even his attackers. He calls that town "Marwencol," a portmanteau of the names "Mark," "Wendy" and "Colleen."

When Mark begins documenting his miniature dramas with his camera, his photos are discovered and published by Esopus magazine[5] and even shown in a New York art gallery. But having the label of "art" applied to his intensely personal work forces Mark to make a choice between the safety of his fictional town and the real world he's avoided since his attack.[6]


The film was shot in New York State in the United States between 2006 and 2010, using a combination of DVCAM video and Super-8 film formats.[7]


The film received widespread critical acclaim, holding a 98% approval rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. The site awarded the film their "Golden Tomato" Award for the best-reviewed documentary of the year.[8] The Los Angeles Times called the film “an exhilarating, utterly unique experience” while the Village Voice said that it's “exactly the sort of mysterious and almost holy experience you hope to get from documentaries and rarely do.”

The film was in the year-end top ten lists of the Boston Globe,[9] The Globe and Mail,[10] Slate,[11] New York magazine,[12] The Oregonian,[13] National Public Radio,[14] and many others.

The film was included in Entertainment Weekly's July 6, 2012 article "50 Best Movies You've Never Seen".[15]

In the 2012 Slate article and online poll, "The Golden Age of Documentaries: What's the Best Doc of the Last 5 Years?", Marwencol was ranked #1 in the poll.[16]

In the 2012 PBS/POV online poll, "The 100 Greatest Documentaries of All Time", Marwencol was ranked #91 in the poll.[17]

In the April 22, 2013 New York article, "How Documentary Became the Most Exciting Kind of Filmmaking", Marwencol was among the films in the accompanying list, "The 20 Essential Documentaries of the Century".[18]

In September 2016, Cinema Eye Honors named Marwencol as one of the 20 top non-fiction films of the past decade, based on a poll of 110 key figures in the documentary community.[19]

In popular culture[edit]

On October 24, 2013 it was announced that Robert Zemeckis will be directing a narrative version of the documentary for Universal Studios. Caroline Thompson will write the script.[20] A release for this narrative version was confirmed for November 21st 2018, with Steve Carell as the lead. [21]

The entirety of Fox's sitcom Raising Hope Season 2 Episode 9 ("The Men of New Natesville") is a reference to and parody of the documentary, including a mention of the film by one of the characters.[22]

The Spike Jonze-directed music video for the Beastie Boys song "Don't Play No Game That I Can't Win" was inspired by the film and Hogancamp's world.[23]

The Russian musical group The Saint Petersburg Disco Spin Club released a track in 2011, "Marwencol".[24]

The American punk rock group Tough Broad released the 2012 song, "Marwencol".[25]

Awards and accolades[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Peter Debruge (March 30, 2010). "Marwencol (Documentary)". Variety. Retrieved 2011-05-13. ... music, Ash Black Bufflo... 
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ [1] Esopus 5 (Fall 2005)
  6. ^ [2] Marwencol official website
  7. ^ [3]"2010 Jacqueline Donnet Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award--Cutting a Path of Understanding: Jeff Malmberg"
  8. ^ [4]"2010 Golden Tomato Awards"
  9. ^ [5]"In this pivotal year, documentaries had the most movie mystery"
  10. ^ [6]"Wow My Top 10 movies of 2010"
  11. ^ [7]"Rick Groen and Liam Lacey's Best Films of 2010"
  12. ^ [8]"The Year in Movies"
  13. ^ [9]"Stan Hall's Best Films of 2010"
  14. ^ [10] "Flicks, Picked: Best and Worst Films of 2010"
  15. ^ [11]"50 Best Movies You've Never Seen" Entertainment Weekly
  16. ^ [12]"The Golden Age of Documentaries: What’s the Best Doc of the Last 5 Years?" Slate
  17. ^ [13]"The 100 Greatest Documentaries"
  18. ^ [14]"How Documentary Became the Most Exciting Kind of Filmmaking" 'Vulture
  19. ^ [15]"
  20. ^ [16]"Robert Zemeckis to Direct 'Marwencol' for Universal" "The Hollywood Reporter"
  21. ^ [17] "Universal Dates Robert Zemeckis-Helmed Steve Carell Pic for November 2018"
  22. ^ [18]"The Men of New Natesville" "AV Club"
  23. ^ [19]"Spike Jonze’s New Beastie Boys Video Sets Course For Marwencol" Bleeding Cool
  24. ^ [20]"The Saint Petersburg Disco Spin Club - Marwencol" Sound Cloud
  25. ^ [21]"Marwencol Tough Broad" Band Camp
  28. ^ a b [24]"BSFC Award Winners"
  29. ^ [25]"TFCA Names The Social Network Best Picture of 2010"
  30. ^ [26]"Take Shelter leads Detroit critics nods"
  31. ^ [27]"Banksy, “Waste Land” Among IDA Documentary Award Nominees"
  32. ^ [28]"EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP Takes Top Award at 2011 Cinema Eye Honors" Cinema Eye Honors
  33. ^ [29] "12th Annual Golden Tomato Awards"
  34. ^ [30] "SXSW announces award winners" Variety
  35. ^ a b [31] "Congratulations to the 2010 CCI:IFF Winners"
  36. ^ [32] "“Marwencol,” “The Reverse” Lead Seattle Film Fest Winners" IndieWIRE
  37. ^ [33] "Attendance Surges at Hot Docs" Variety
  38. ^ [34] "Silverdocs Juries Reward “Mommy” and “5 Elephants”" IndieWIRE
  39. ^ [35]"FILMPREISE BEI DER VIENNALE 2010" (German)
  40. ^ [36]"FILM FEST: Awards honor Keanu Reeves, Kingston-based documentary"
  41. ^ [37]"10WFF Final Awards press release"
  42. ^ [38] |"34th Cleveland International Film Festival Awards"
  43. ^ [39] "IFFBoston 2010 Wrap-Up"
  44. ^ [40]"FANTASIA 2010 AUDIENCE AWARDS / PRIX DU PUBLIC announced!"
  45. ^ [41] |"Belfast Film Festival"
  46. ^ [42] |"International Celebration of Lives"

External links[edit]