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Available May 19, 2021 11:45 PM UTC
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This is the general screening for Strawberry Mansion. To attend the one-night-only Opening Night special event on Wednesday, May 19, visit the film page here.

It’s always a good year for MdFF when we’re able to present work from multi-hyphenate filmmakers, Kentucker Audley and Albert Birney. This dynamic duo’s first feature, Sylvio, was one of the biggest hometown crowd-pleasers in our entire lineup for 2017. As was the case with that film, their latest effort—which had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January—is absolutely jam-packed with creativity. Featuring a simultaneously heartfelt-yet-surreal script and a mind-boggling amount of handmade costumes, props, and set-pieces, I can think of no better film to anchor 2021’s Opening Night experience.


Set in the year 2035, Strawberry Mansion tells the story of James Preble (Audley), a “dream auditor” for the federal government assigned to collect taxes on seemingly all of the items that appear in the dreams of the general public. Preble responds to a letter written by the elderly Ms. Arabella “Bella” Isadora—played by the delightful Penny Fuller (All the President’s Men, 1976)—who can’t even recall why she asked him for help in the first place. Preble is, of course, there to perform what he believes will be a routine audit to collect all of the back taxes that Bella has never cared to pay on any of her dreams. But one lick of a little pink ice-cream cone will be the beginning of a monumental, psychedelic journey across time and space that is, to be completely honest, downright impossible to summarize.


Along with Audley and Fuller, Grace Glowicki (Tito, MdFF 2019, and Raf, MdFF 2020), Reed Birney (The Forty-Year-Old Version), and Constance Shulman (Sylvio) expertly immerse themselves in this vivid dream-world—one that’s propelled by stellar synthesizers, courtesy of Dan Deacon (All Light, Everywhere, also screening at MdFF 2021). To me, the closest cinematic equivalent is perhaps Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure (and there’s a moment or two that appear to directly reference said feature-debut from Tim Burton), with its imaginative story and playful spirit that calls us back to our childhoods—back to when we first fell in love with the moving-image art form. Truly, that’s what Strawberry Mansion is, at its core: a love story. And the love radiating from every aspect of this locally-produced treasure is obvious. I hope you haven’t had too many potato pods or cheese holes already, because you’re about to be served a triple-scoop of candy-coated movie magic.


Live long and prosper, Sugarbaby.


—Lucas Cullen, Programming Associate, MdFF 2021


Content considerations: depictions and implications of violence

  • Year
    2020
  • Runtime
    91 minutes
  • Language
    English
  • Country
    United States
  • Director
    Albert Birney & Kentucker Audley
  • Screenwriter
    Albert Birney & Kentucker Audley
  • Producer
    Emma Hannaway, Matisse Rifai, Sarah Winshall, Taylor Ava Shung
  • Executive Producer
    Alex Plapinger, Adam Kersh, James Belfer, Adam Belfer, Andrew Belfer, Elaine Thomas, Todd Remis, David Moscow, Tim Headington, Theresa Steele Page
  • Cast
    Penny Fuller, Kentucker Audley, Grace Glowicki, Linas Phillips, Reed Birney
  • Cinematographer
    Tyler Davis
  • Editor
    Albert Birney & Kentucker Audley
  • Production Design
    Becca Brooks Morrin
  • Composer
    Dan Deacon