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“Poustina,” a documentary by Kristian Berg, tells the story of artist Gendron Jenson and his obsession with bones. (Photo courtesy of Duluth Superior Film Festival)

Free fun, films at Duluth Superior Film Festival

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The world premiere of a Trampled By Turtles video, a documentary about a collector’s hunt for a specific human specimen and a cult classic-caliber suspense movie filmed at Glensheen mansion are among the highlights of the dozens of screenings for this year’s Duluth Superior Film Festival.

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The festival runs through Sunday and features a mix of drama, documentaries, short films and music videos playing at a handful of local venues. Screenings are free — aside from a reception with actor Patty Duke on Friday — and donations are accepted.

“We want people to take a chance with the festival,” director-founder Richard Hansen said. “(Free screenings) make it easier to take a chance on something that isn’t something you’d normally try. It’s about providing access to people.”

Here are a handful films of note from the festival:

“You’ll Like My Mother” — 8 p.m., Sunday, Glensheen

Patty Duke — and Glensheen — star in the suspense movie that was filmed in and around Duluth more than 40 years ago. “You’ll Like My Mother,” directed by Lamont Johnson and based on a novel by Naomi A. Hintze, did OK at the box office but didn’t have the longevity required to land on Netflix or advance to the DVD era. It maintains the feel of a cult classic, or at the very least, 92 minutes of fodder for a Duluth-themed trivia night.

(It’s probably in poor taste to mention that you can stream this movie in its entirety on YouTube).

“You’ll Like My Mother” opens with a pregnant war widow, played by Duke, traveling by bus to the isolated mansion in northern Minnesota. She’s planning to visit her mother-in-law, a woman her husband spoke fondly of before he died. Her welcome from Mrs. Kinsolving is as chilly as the wind off Lake Superior.

Everything is a little left of normal at Chez Kinsolving. There’s a wild-haired girl and a dangerous-looking boy skulking around, but she’s trapped at the estate — first by weather, then by labor.

Duke will be on hand for the screening on the Glensheen lawn.

Why see it: It’s a tour of Glensheen, where most of the action happens, as seen through the eyes of Hollywood.

“Multiple Stab Wounds” — 10 p.m., Saturday, Zinema 2

Beware of long, white, empty hallways and elevators. Beware of sinister music. Beware of the masked figure in the dark trench coat.

Murder Pretty, a group of local filmmakers that includes Shane May, created “Multiple Stab Wounds,” which they’ve billed as a no-budget slasher flick — a nod to the giallo films from the 1960s.

Jamie is a college student burdened with a big paper due Monday. Still, her coffee shop colleague and friend, Danielle, is able to coax her into a girls-only booze-and-cigar party. A handful of college dudes doctor their coffee with shots from a bottle and proceed to get drunker as they debate philosophy, art, Danielle and even debating. A bumbling campus cop and his janitor sidekick provide the dark comedy in the purposefully hokey, plot-light, shiny-knifed, blood-puddled horror flick.

Why see it: Gushes with blood; Oozes with fun. Plus, it’s homegrown cinema.

“Poustinia” — 7 p.m., Friday, Prove Gallery

It’s all about bones for Gendron Jensen, who, for a spell, was holed up in a farmhouse in northern Minnesota working on drawings of the bones he collected.

This short documentary by Kristian Berg is told mostly in Jensen’s own voice, a colorful touch, because the artist says things like, “A lot of my time is spent in mutely gazing and beholding, musing the different creature leavings that I work with” and “In the depths of the night, when everyone is asleep, there seems to appear some magic thing in the air. And I’m in the thing. I’m fully enveloped in the process of delving that stone to get that image done.”

Jensen, who wears a bone necklace throughout the doc, spent 17 years in Minnesota and showed his work at regional galleries. He’s got Robert Bly’s nod: The writer referred to him as a “forest eccentric.” Jensen moved to New Mexico for a new life and a new focus: stone lithography.

Why see it: Gendron Jensen has ties to this region and you’ll want to hear the warm sentences that spill from his mouth.

“Wind Song” — 7 p.m., Friday, Prove Gallery

Maya and Zoe are lifelong friends, from dandelion crowns and swing sets to lazy, hazy summer days staring at the sky. When Zoe dies in an accident, Maya tries to find a way to live — which includes navigating around the apparition-like memories of her best friend.

“Wind Song,” by Christine Rapsys and Christine Dennis, was filmed in northern Wisconsin and included the work of two-time Academy Award winner Joel Hynek. The 20-minute film includes gut-punch moments of sadness and lush vistas.

Why see it: Co-writer, co-director and co-star Christina Rapsys is from this region, as is her husband, Ryan Rapsys, who wrote the score.

“The Final Member” — 7 p.m., Saturday, Teatro Zuccone

When this 75-minute documentary opens, Siggi Hjartarson is 30 miles from the Arctic Circle, seemingly engaging in a transaction with a fisherman. He reveals a bag containing male seal genitalia.

“These are absolutely fantastic, absolutely fabulous,” the curator of the Icelandic Phallological Museum says.

It started with a bull penis (that was a joke gift), and in the past 30 years Hjartarson has built a collection that includes sperm whale, cave bear, foxes, rats, pigs, horses, rams, reindeer, dolphins … he’s just missing one:

“Without a proper human, the collection is not complete,” he says.

Obtaining this final piece becomes his own personal, ahem, “Moby Dick.”

Why see it: Well, in case it wasn’t clear, this is a documentary about a man who collects penises. So it should be self-explanatory.

“Are You Behind the Shining Star” by Trampled By Turtles, Music video — 8:30 p.m., Friday, Prove Gallery

This is the premiere for the video for the first single off of Trampled By Turtles’ new album “Wild Animals.” The video for “Are you Behind the Shining Star” was directed by Philip Harder, the guy who took 20 years of Low video footage to create “Low Movie (How to Quit Smoking).” He also directed “Monkey,” which features the band, alternately, in sideways snow on the North Shore and sharing a ride with a monkey.

Natural connection: Low’s Alan Sparhawk produced the new album.

Some of the other music videos in the festival include: “Absentee,” by Jack Campbell and the Skeleton Keyes, and “Put Me Through” by Red Mountain — both directed by Lakefront Films — “Speed of Light” by Hastings 3000, directed by Patrick Pierson, and “Beacon” by Doomtree, directed by Bo Hakala.

Why see it: Because it’s Trampled, duh, and you get a chance to see it before mtvU blasts it.

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Christa Lawler
(218) 279-5536
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