“Presented here in a new 4K version, Guy Maddin’s 1988 debut feature, Tales From the Gimli Hospital, established the motifs and methods that would distinguish the director’s singular career. Using tricks and techniques usually associated with silent or early sound films (including irises, multiple superimposed images, chiaroscuro), Tales highlights the surreal absurdity of old filmmaking and storytelling conventions.
The narrative is framed by a grandmother consoling her grandchildren as they fret over their ailing mother in the Gimli Hospital. The elder woman distracts them with a tale about Einar the Lonely (Kyle McCulloch) and his love for the beautiful Snjófridur (Angela Heck). The area is plagued by an epidemic, and Einar falls ill. He’s hospitalized in a barn, where beds are placed in the floor above the livestock, whose sweat heats the building. His neighbor is the loquacious giant Gunnar (Michael Gottli), who’s a natural born storyteller, beloved by the nurses (which frustrates the always lonely Einar) — and he’s an expert at cutting identical fish out of bark. Things take a turn for the worse when Gunnar tells a very revealing story that threatens their friendship.” -Steve Gravestock, Toronto International Film Festival