The Quay Brothers’ first feature, Institute Benjamenta, is an exquisitely realized anti-fairytale as unique and astonishing as their celebrated animations. Jakob (Mark Rylance) enrolls at the titular institute—a dilapidated, moribund boarding school for the training of servants—and becomes embroiled in the strangely hypnotic world of the enigmatic siblings at its helm. Inspired by the writings of Swiss author Robert Walser, Institute Benjamenta also boasts a stellar art-house cast, including Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact) and Fassbinder regular Gottfried John (The Marriage of Maria Braun). Click to here to read an interview with the brothers about the film.
Shown with Street of Crocodiles (UK, 1987, 20 min.), the Quays’ masterpiece, is adapted from a short story by Polish writer Bruno Schulz. A museum caretaker spits into the eyepiece of an ancient kinetoscope and sets the musty machine in motion, plunging the viewer into a nightmarish netherworld of bizarre puppet rituals among the dirt and grime.
The MFAH film department is supported by Tenaris; The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences; The Consulate General of the Republic of Korea; Nina and Michael Zilkha; the National Film Preservation Foundation; Franci and Jim Crane; James V. Derrick; Ms. Melanie Gray and Mr. Mark Wawro; and Lynn S. Wyatt.