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Film Review: ‘Ignasi M.’

Ventura Pons' latest feature is a charming portrait of Catalonian museologist Ignasi Millet Bonaventura.

With:

Ignasi Millet Bonaventura, Ramon Millet, Merce Bonaventura, Julep Boya, Dr. Jose Molto Dra, Merce Arderol, Bernat Millet, Merce Altarriba, Oriol Ribera, Maribel Real, Xavier Millet, Marcel Millet, Diego Cordoba, Marina Miquel, Assumpta Esquis, Carme Subiranas, Carolina Ribera, Joan Garcia Biosca, Arnau Millet, Jonathan Jegousse, Maita Payas Puigarnau. (Catalan dialogue)

Ventura Pons’ “Ignasi M.,” one of his rare documentaries, is a charming portrait of the highly regarded Catalonian museologist Ignasi Millet Bonaventura. Rather than focusing on his professional expertise in the worlds of art and preservation, however, the film simply follows its motormouthed subject around as he breathlessly converses with family members, friends and colleagues on whatever comes to mind, spreading an atmosphere of screwball chaos in his wake. Delightful results should appeal to fest programmers, niche home-format buyers, and artscasters.

We first meet the subject as he delivers a long monologue about the 29 pills he takes every day, from antidepressants to AIDS-related medications to Viagra (the latter because the first two “knock out what’s down below and most important”). We then meet his elderly, long-divorced parents, who were “disastrous on a family level but fantastically enriching on a creative level” — a judgment that neither of the still-active artists disagrees with. Bonaventura also talks with the two grown sons he improbably conceived and raised with a wheelchair-bound lesbian, one now a London-based graphic designer/animator, the other a photographer and evangelical Christian. (Always quick to make a racy reference, the flamboyantly gay Bonaventura tells his ex-wife, “I have always been a sexual pig,” to which she shrugs, “Yes. Well … not with me.”)

An irrepressible bundle of energy, Bonaventura is seen rock-climbing up a sheer cliff face, shopping for sex toys, visiting his doctors, and verbally overwhelming just about everyone around him — any conversation with him takes on the flavor of a  crowded party. He’s purportedly suffered major losses from Spain’s financial crisis, but is disinclined to dwell on such an irksome subject, so we get very little detail on the matter.

Assembly is aptly high in energy and polish, with several rapid-fire photo montages approximating life at the speed and scale with which Bonaventura zestily consumes it.

Film Review: 'Ignasi M.'

Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Jan. 28, 2014. (In Palm Springs Film Festival; 2013 Toronto Film Festival.) Running time: 86 MIN.

Production:

(Documentary — Spain) An Els Films de la Rambla production in association with Institut Catala d'Empreses Culturals, ICAA/Ministry of Culture and Televisio de Catalunya. (International sales: Latido, Madrid.) Produced by Ventura Pons. Executive producer, Pons.

Crew:

Directed by Ventura Pons. Camera (color, HD), Andalu Vila San Juan; editor, Marc Matons; sound, Alex Perez; assistant director, Albert Auladell.

With:

Ignasi Millet Bonaventura, Ramon Millet, Merce Bonaventura, Julep Boya, Dr. Jose Molto Dra, Merce Arderol, Bernat Millet, Merce Altarriba, Oriol Ribera, Maribel Real, Xavier Millet, Marcel Millet, Diego Cordoba, Marina Miquel, Assumpta Esquis, Carme Subiranas, Carolina Ribera, Joan Garcia Biosca, Arnau Millet, Jonathan Jegousse, Maita Payas Puigarnau. (Catalan dialogue)

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