A house mouse has one; mind you it's only a couple of millimeters long. A sperm whale has one too, but it's closer to six feet in length. If you like, you could see both of these specimens (and hundreds of others) from the animal kingdom at a special museum just 30 miles south of the Arctic Circle. The Icelandic Phallological Museum (IPM) features just one theme for your viewing and learning pleasure: penises.
Mind you, there is one important sample missing -- that of a human male.
Enter Canadian directors Zach Math and Jonah Bekhor, who now make their homes in Los Angeles. When they heard that IPM curator Sigurdur Hjartarson was looking to complete his unique collection, and that he had a couple of potential donors waiting in the wings, they hopped on a plane and started filming everything from that moment on. The results are funny, sad, heartwarming and fascinating. One thing "The Final Member" is (thankfully) missing is the low-brow, goofy dick joke, which is nary to be found.
Sigurdur, or Siggy as he's known in the film, is an educator, a family man and a naturalist; he's also getting older. His popular museum started as a joke after a friend gave him a bull penis in 1974. It was an awfully nice specimen, and Siggy being a bit of a compulsive guy, the collection grew ... at least in numbers. Siggy and his wife of over 50 years were looking to take care of themselves and their health issues, but the wry Icelander will not rest until the human addition is made.
His potential donors are just as eccentric as he is. The first is a local icon named Pall Arason. A pioneer of adventure tourism and explorer of the wild in his native country, Arason is also well-known as one of the country's great womanizers. He is keen to share his notorious manhood with generations to come, but at 95 years old is running into some serious shrinkage problems. This is an issue, as the folklore of Iceland demands a minimum five inches.
If Pall sounds like a handful, wait until you meet Tom Mitchell. Tom is an American who seems like the kind of guy who might be an accountant or run the local hardware store. Turns out he is absolutely obsessed with his genitalia. 'Elmo,' as he calls it, seems to live in its own world with its own set of rules. Tom is so elated about the potential for Elmo to be the first human penis in the museum, he has even sweetened the offer. Tom wants to have Elmo surgically removed and plastisized while he is still alive and kicking. He even has plans for it outside of the museum during off-season.
And so the race is on. One would think that plans would be drawn up, deadlines would be determined, and arrangements made for the final member. Instead we see three men grappling with ego, compulsion, attachment and expectation. Whether the Icelandic Phallogical Museum is ever completed is now a difficult, complex and layered problem for the trio to work out.
In the end, "The Final Member" has a lot more heart than penis in it -- and that's a good thing.
Thu, May 3, 9:00 PM Cumberland 3
Sun, May 6, 7:00 PM The Revue
Hot Docs Day 6: 'We Are Legion: The Story Of The Hacktivists' Full schedule of Hot Docs screenings Hot Docs Day 5: 'The Queen Of Versailles' Hot Docs Day 4: 'Bones Brigade: An Autobiography' Hot Docs Day 3: 'Beauty Is Embarrassing' Hot Docs Day 2: 'Beware Of Mr. Baker' Hot Docs Day 1: "Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry"