It takes a village to save a mind. And in Jeff Malmberg’s bizarre and endlessly fascinating documentary, the village is the imaginary World War II Belgian burg of the title, invented by Mark Hogancamp of Kingston, New York.
Years earlier, thugs beat Hogancamp into a coma outside a bar and left him with no memory, or much of anything else. He rehabbed at a hospital, but when the money ran out, he was on his own, so he decided to create a world out of old boards, action figures, Barbie dolls, and assorted model kits.
This project not only exercised his motor skills and verbal abilities but also, he says, his most important faculty — his imagination. Malmberg uses his imagination as well in telling this story, with its resonating nuances about the meaning of art and identity, but Hogancamp’s modest genius and his incredible creation — picked up, inevitably, by a New York gallery — transcend the confines of outsider art.