'The Final Member' Follows Ambitious Quest

Directors: Jonah Bekhor and Zach Math

Opening date: April 18 (limited)

Why it matters: This simultaneously sidesplitting and taboo-bending documentary follows Icelandic Phallological Museum curator Siggi Hjartarson’s quest to complete the institution’s collection of mammalian male reproductive organs by adding just about the only exhibit it doesn’t yet have: Homo sapiens. Hjartarson finds himself juggling the offers of two prospective donors, each obsessed with becoming the first person to have his family jewels put on display. Most museums wouldn’t exist without generous endowments from their patrons, and the pic — snapped up for U.S. release by “The Act of Killing” distrib Drafthouse Films — proves how attached some men are to their members, whether or not their members remain attached to them.

Bekhor: “It’s a story that could only end two ways — death or dismemberment. The stakes couldn’t be more real, and the film’s themes are fundamentally human: Obsession, death, the legacy of what we leave behind.

“After my screening at the Palm Springs International Film Festival last year, a director friend cornered me and freaked out about how much he loved the film, but he was utterly convinced that it was an elaborate scripted comedy. He kept trying to get me admit that it wasn’t real, and to this day, he still mimes air-quotes every time he refers to the film as a documentary.

“A big part of what drove me to make this film was a fascination with these men united by a profound sense of wanting to create their own legacy. They all wanted a version of the same thing: the first human penis in the museum. But they just couldn’t quite get on the same page. And as fear, alienation, competitiveness, and even hopelessness penetrated their lives on the way to the final endgame, their relationships became so increasingly difficult that it threatened to destroy their respective goals in the process.”

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