Interisland Terminal: Documentaries remind us that life is stranger than fiction

Barb Forsyth

KAHALA—Reality is what we manufacture through perception, environment, and circumstance. “Manufactured Reality” is the brain child of local art hub Interisland Terminal. The organization is dedicated to presenting innovative and high quality exhibits of contemporary art, design, and film to Honolulu.

As Interisland Terminal’s first program for 2011, a selection of three documentary films will be screened from February 15 to 17 at Consolidated Kahala Theatres. The lineup was curated by Andersen Le, the program director for the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), who was determined to select a focused group of internationally relevant documentaries to make their Honolulu debut.

The three documentaries showcased at “Manufactured Reality” (Marwencol, Plug and Pray, and This Way of Life) are intended to open our eyes to the complex concepts of fantasy, honor, and artificial intelligence.

As Interisland Terminal staffer Wei Fang so accurately summarized, “life is stranger than fiction,” and these documentaries prove to be no exception. Each deals with “reality,” and how it is manufactured through perception, environment, and circumstance.

“Manufactured Reality” will allow the audience to experience unique and provoking realities from a World War II-era fantasy world created at 1/6 scale in Marwencol, to the eerily timely desire to enhance the planet Earth by robotics in Plug and Pray, and a family’s quest to find true connection with nature and each other by leaving modern society in This Way of Life, a film that also happened to be shortlisted for Oscar nominations for Best Documentary of 2010.

Tickets are available for advance purchase online at Individual tickets are $10; advance purchase tickets for all three films is $15 (until Friday, February 11 at 11:59 p.m.).

All proceeds support the on-going programs of Interisland Terminal.


Tuesday, February 15 at 6:00 p.m.— MARWENCOL (83 min)
Tuesday, February 15 at 8:00 p.m.—PLUG & PRAY (90 min)
Wednesday, February 16 at 6:00 p.m.—PLUG & PRAY (90 min)
Wednesday, February 16 at 8:00 p.m.—THIS WAY OF LIFE (84 min)
Thursday, February 17 at 6:00 p.m.—THIS WAY OF LIFE (84 min)
Thursday, February 17 at 8:00 p.m.—MARWENCOL (83 min)

Film Synopses

Marwencol is a documentary about the fantasy world of Mark Hogancamp. After being beaten into a brain-damaging coma by five men outside a bar, Mark builds a 1/6th scale World War II-era town in his backyard. Mark populates the town he dubs “Marwencol” with dolls representing his friends and family and creates life-like photographs detailing the town’s many relationships and dramas. Playing in the town and photographing the action helps Mark to recover his hand-eye coordination and deal with the psychic wounds of the attack. When Mark and his photographs are discovered, a prestigious New York gallery sets up an art show. Suddenly Mark’s homemade therapy is deemed “art,” forcing him to choose between the safety of his fantasy life in Marwencol and the real world that he’s avoided since the attack.


This Way of Life is an intimate portrait of Peter Karena and his family. Masterful in the saddle and Hollywood handsome, Peter lives by an internal code of values and honor largely lost in modern times. Though European, Peter was adopted into a Maori family and is Maori in all but skin. He is a horse-whisperer, philosopher, hunter, and builder, a husband and father. Despite seemingly overwhelming challenges, Peter refuses to compromise. Especially troubling to Peter is his broken relationship with his adopted father—a malevolent man who refuses to leave him alone.


Plug & Pray examines the creation of artificial intelligence, a fantastical idea that captured the minds of scientists (and science fiction writers) from the very start of the computer age. But the breathtaking pace of technology has moved us ever closer to making it a reality. What is the future of A.I., and where could it potentially lead us? Jens Schanze’s Plug & Pray is an engrossing journey into the preternatural, and sometimes grotesque, future of advanced computer life. We are invited into the laboratories and minds of technological experts from around the world as they make bold visions come true: the creation of machines that are equal to their human creators. But then there is Joseph Weizenbaum, a pioneer of artificial intelligence and creator of the Eliza speech program. Playful and sardonic, he critically questions the scientific faith in technological supremacy and the notion of “plug and play.”