Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'The Final Member,' by Toronto-Bred Filmmakers, Confronts Taboo Topic: 'The Final Member' Confronts Taboo Topic

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'The Final Member,' by Toronto-Bred Filmmakers, Confronts Taboo Topic: 'The Final Member' Confronts Taboo Topic

Article excerpt

TORONTO - "The Final Member," about the world's only penis museum and its curator, isn't mean to be an "issue film," say Toronto-bred documentary makers Zach Math and Jonah Bekhor.

But they do hope it will encourage people to question the idea of the male organ as a taboo topic. That's also the goal of Sigurdur (Siggi) Hjartarson, who is interviewed in the film as founder of the Icelandic Phallological Museum.

"The real purpose for what he's doing is to bring people into this world where all these male specimens have been laid out in front of them, and it's deliberately to challenge people to look at it in a different way," Bekhor said in an interview at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

"The fundamental question with this film, as with Sigurdur Hjartarson's museum is: why is something that's so central to human life still considered a taboo?"

"The Final Member," which makes its world debut at Hot Docs on Tuesday, offers a compelling look at Hjartarson and his 40-year odyssey to add a human specimen to his mammalian phallus collection.

A well respected educator, author and translator who has been known to confront taboo subjects in the classroom, the 70-year-old Hjartarson started collecting penises in 1974 after he received a bull's member as a joke from colleagues.

His museum has a wide range of specimens -- from that of a sperm whale to a polar bear to a reindeer -- on display in glass boxes, formaldehyde-filled jars and wall mounts.

"It's scientifically set up, there's nothing lascivious about it," said Math. "We would almost go so far as to say it's almost like this ingenious social science experiment or almost art project in the sense that what great museums and great art do is they force people to question conventions and look at things differently."

"If that's the purpose -- to challenge people to look at things differently, to challenge people to think differently -- what does that better than a penis museum? …

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