Befitting the shift, this year’s lineup looks to be bigger and better than ever, pimping a host of shorts and several full-length features at its new home, the Contemporary Arts Center. (Programming will take place in both the upstairs lobby and in the black box space downstairs 8 p.m.-midnight Thursday-Saturday concurrent with the music showcases.)
Boston-based indie filmmaker Taylor Toole’s Mow Crew centers on a twentysomething couple, Sage and Eric (played by real-life musicians Saara Untracht-Oakner and Aaron Lloyd Barr), whose Indie Folk stylings unexpectedly score a sweet record deal.
Yet all is not well: Eric gets cold feet when the duo is set to move to the West Coast, Sage’s “slutty” twin sister runs into serious trouble and the long-simmering tensions between two rival lawn-cutting crews (one of which is Eric’s day-job employer) comes to a breaking point. The amateur cast and lo-fi production value might scream Mumblecore, but Toole’s full-length debut seems informed by an authentically personal vision. (Mow Crew screens 9:35 p.m. Saturday.)
Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Big Man Japan is a surreal mockumentary about a slightly eccentric but otherwise ordinary guy who is shocked by bolts of electricity that transform him into a tattoo-laden giant whenever he must protect Japan from various nefarious monsters, several of which look like something conjured in the twisted mind of Salvador Dali. Part homage to Japan’s role in monster-movie iconography, part satire of documentary tropes, Matsumoto’s crafty comedy is 100 percent amusing. (Big Man Japan screens 9:50 p.m. Friday.)
Among the Test’s other offerings are the Best of the 2009 International Film Festival Rotterdam (9:45 p.m. Saturday), the Best of the 2008 Ottawa International Animation Festival (10 p.m. Friday), Brett Ingram’s Rocaterrania (8 p.m. Thursday) and Brett Gaynor’s RiP: A Remix Manifesto (10 p.m. Thursday).
Admission to Lite Brite is included in your nightly MPMF coverage charge at the Contemporary Arts Center ($7 Thursday-Friday and $10 Saturday). Everyone with a three-day wristband gets in for free.