‘My Winnipeg’: The Fascination of Canadians for the Myth

Guy Maddin blends fact and fiction, reality and myth in this dreamy black-and-white tour of Winnipeg. ‘My Winnipeg’ won the award for Best Canadian Feature Film when it premiered at the 2007 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). A 2015 poll conducted by TIFF named it one of the Top 10 Canadian films of all time, while another in 2016 listed it as one of 150 essential works in Canadian cinema history.

My Winnipeg is a 2007 film directed and written by Guy Maddin with dialogue by George Toles.

My Winnipeg is a documentary made by Guy Maddin, a filmmaker born and raised in Winnipeg. Maddin is probably the most famous Canadian experimental film director, he is known by his pastiche style that imitates and celebrates the look of silent horror movies influenced mostly by the 1920’s German Expressionism.

Winnipeg is a peculiar city, not only because of its infamous winters, but also due to some particularities, for instance: Winnipeg is the second coldest city in the world with more than 600,000 inhabitants (and for a long time it was in first place until Ulan Bator, Mongolia’s capital, took over first place), and at the same time, it is one of the sunniest cities in Canada with more hours of clear, blue skies, which makes a peculiar combination of snowy and sunny weather.

My Winnipeg features an unnamed character-narrator who is on board on a train trying to leave the city, he is half asleep on his seat. Through a voice off, he talks extensively. He starts by expressing his will to abandon Winnipeg, then he talks about his family, tells anecdotes and memories all related to the city. The train seems to be going in circle, the character is trapped in Winnipeg. His speeches are quirky, poetic and surreal, they give the “impression” that the talker is daydreaming or, sleepwalking at times; he points out that “Winnipeg is the sleepwalking capital of the world.”

The information and facts that he provides about the city are not based on true facts. However, beneath the subjectivity and the artifice we can grasp “real and true” notions about Winnipeg: the geography, some history (the colonial and indigenous background which impregnates the spirit of the city), known monuments and places, the way of living, customs, legends, and beliefs. All these depict the vibe that Winnipeg has.

My Winnipeg is genuine, creative way to write a love letter about a hometown. Guy Maddin, a son of Winnipeg, labeled his artistic approach in this documentary as a “docu-fantasia,” and he is right. The film is a blend of vivid imagination attached to common places in that town. It is a joyful, mind-blowing piece of cinema.

  • Original title: My Winnipeg
  • Release date: 2007
  • Directed by: Guy Maddin
  • Written by: Guy Maddin, George Toles (dialogue writer)
  • Starring: Darcy Fehr, Ann Savage, Louis Negin
Xphilo Liranzo
Journalist, freelance writer. Born in the Dominican Republic, lives in Toronto since 2016 and previously lived in Montréal for two years. Film analyst, novelist, author of two novels in process of editing. He writes reviews of movies, books, and music albums. He is also interested in psychology, sociology, neuroscience, history, sports, health, and well-being. He has some experience in filmmaking (directing and as a screenwriter). Passionate about languages, he is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese. He is also able to read and speak German (intermediate level) and Mandarin (Basic level). You can find most of his articles and reviews on his website: