“Like going to war.” This is how one of the wrestlers in photographer Ken Hermann and art director Gem Fletcher‘s project Bökh, describes Mongolian wrestling. Shot in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia, the resulting portraits and short film pay respect to this ancient tradition. It’s a tradition that is still very much alive in the nomadic communities that account for 30% of the country’s population.
While we’ve seen our share of miniature people, we’ve never been privy to heard the stories behind them. That’s all about to change with this intriguing new movie Marwencol. The documentary is told through the eyes of Mark Hogancamp, a man who was beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar in his hometown of Kingston, New York.
To rebuild his hand-eye coordination, deal with the mental wounds of the attack and because he could not afford therapy, Mark built a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard which he called “Marwencol.” The dolls that live in this town eerily represet his friends, his family and even his attackers. After a few years, Mark started taking pictures of his miniature scenes and that’s where the story took a dramatic turn.
Mark’s photos were discovered by a prestigious New York gallery who instantly turned his private “therapy” into public works of art. He now has to “choose between the safety of his fantasy life in Marwencol and the real world that he’s avoided since the attack.”
The film was shot over a course of four years. See some of his amazing photos and then watch the trailer, below.
Marwencol is only playing in select theaters for a limited amount of time. (Currently, it’s rated at 94% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.) New York Magazine says that it’s “about as fascinating as a documentary can get.”
Find theaters playing the film, here.