An undeniably strange but always welcome old friend returns this week, as the Salvador Dali Museum's Dali and Beyond Film Series steps up to the plate with its schedule of summer films. The series' June lineup is dubbed "Art-House Summer Shockers" and begins appropriately enough with Elias Merhige's unforgettable Begotten on June 6. A wordless, infinitely inscrutable series of mysterious and often bloody images shot in grainy black-and-white and set to a soundtrack of buzzing insects and gushing fluids, Begotten is a self-described "modern re-creation of a creation myth," and a love-it-or-hate-it proposition hailed by Susan Sontag as one of the most important films ever made.
The other offering for June is every bit as ambitious and a good bit more audience friendly: Tales from the Gimli Hospital, the debut feature from Guy Maddin, one of the most original and best filmmakers of our time. The most obvious reference point for Maddin's work, and Gimli in particular, is Eraserhead-era David Lynch, but Maddin is a unique talent who's absorbed what seems to be the whole of cinematic history and spits it right back in our faces in a way that more often than not tickles rather than stings. Eerie, absurd, intellectually stimulating and often ridiculously funny, Tales of Gimli Hospital screens on June 20.
Dali and Beyond switches gears in July with two films billed as "Latin Magic Realism." First up, on July 11, is the French-Mexican-German co-production Erendira, based on the novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. On July 18, is the must-see film of the entire summer series, Alejandro Jodorowsky's Santa Sangre. The director's son, Axel Jodorowsky, stars as a mama-fixated showman-mystic-murderer in what may well be the most jaw-droppingly audacious fusion of arthouse-kitsch-splatter film you'll ever see.
All screenings will take place at 6 p.m. at the Salvador Dali Museum, 1000 Third St. S., St. Petersburg. Admission is $5 adults, $3.50 seniors, $2.50 students with ID and free for Dali members. Call 727-823-3767 for more information.