If the current state of cinema is Jason Statham fighting a giant, prehistoric CGI shark named ‘Meg’ than 2018’s Sydney Underground Film Festival (SUFF) is set to be a Mick Fanning-approved punch to the face of the blockbuster. The annual event showcases the latest in independent and experimental cinema and this year’s program is the perfect snack for all cinephiles.
Like a fresh box of Favourites, this year features an assortment of delights including Nicholas Cage’s latest pulpy horror flick, music docos and short films from our very own University of Sydney students and grads!
For the *cultured* there are workshops on virtual reality and the possible Hollywood apocalypse as well as the inaugural Inhuman Screens conference, talking all things screen culture and technology, so you can learn how to finally chat with the F.B.I agent behind your webcam! There’s also a late-night cartoon cereal party to legitimize your Crunchy Nut obsession. Go on, dig around that purple box, there’s something for everyone (just hope it’s not a Dream) and read on to see our top 6 film picks!
USA, Director: Panos Cosmatos
If this film was a classic emoji filled Instagram caption it would be the knife, the snake and the purple magic fortune ball thing. In the latest addition to the Nicolas-Cage-flips-out biography, Mandy features a telekinetic bikie messiah hell and a killer prog rock soundtrack. In what looks to be a giallo meets Manson murders meets Neon Demon horror mashup, this otherworldly flick will be screening on closing night. And if Cage wielding a chainsaw gets too much you can always hide behind your free ice-cream.
USA, Director: Daniel J. Clarke
This US documentary swaps tin foil hats for hard investigative journalism as it examines the growing group of flat earth conspiracy theorists. Without mockery, the film takes an in-depth look at the society’s rapid expansion and increasing popularity amongst public figures including B.o.B and NBA star Kyrie Irving. Balancing flat earthers with opinions from scientists and astrophysicists, Behind the Curve feels like the legitimate, I-can-talk-about-this-in-my-tutorial-alternative to watching Shane Dawson conspiracy theory videos till 4am.
Australia, Director: Jack Moxey
From its moody black and white trailer, Bugs looks to be a modern Aussie take on Harmony Korine's cult-classic Kids. In his directorial debut, Moxley’s film focuses on popularity seeking high schoolers as they nonchalantly plan their weekends whilst the body of their classmate is abandoned in bush nearby. Bugs feels like how a baby boomer’s nightmare would envision snapchat addicted adolescents, or if a David Lynch protagonist found a severed ear in Kath and Kim’s backyard and then complained that there weren’t any paddle pops left in the freezer.
France, Director: Coralie Fargeat
On a relentless mission to subvert the revenge rape and exploitation genre, Anya Stanley of Dread Central said Revenge, “gauges the male gaze out of our eyeballs”. Dusty, bloody and empowered, this film looks to be one of the SUFF standouts. French female filmmaker, Coralie Fargeat viscerally encaptures a desert feminist Lolita and shows what happens when men underestimate women, especially those bloody and in combat boots. A violent and exhilarating portrait of empowerment, this film emerges a shouldering phoenix from the #metoo ashes.
Norway, Director: Reinert Kill
With the questionable beliefs of extended family members, highly flammable tinsel near the BBQ and the dry horror of fruit cake, Christmas is already terrifying. Christmas Blood takes this to a whole new level with a gore and festivity loving, Santa serial killer. When the director’s name is Reinert Kill it’s not surprising that this film used over 150 litres of fake blood. Blending Norwegian noir with the joys of holiday themed murder Christmas Blood is set to satisfy your scandi aesthetic needs and scare you into leaving biscuits and milk out every night of the year.
Canada, Director: Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson
In a quasi-narrative pastiche, The Green Fog pays tribute to Hitchcock’s Vertigo and is a quintessential SUFF experimental film. Using an eccentric assemblage of images from dozens of San Francisco television and film scenes, Maddin creates a self-termed “parallel-universe version” of Hitchcock’s original, entwining viewers in its uncanny yet nostalgic collage. With surreal silences, awkward gestures and dramatic zooms, The Green Fog is the art house equivalent to those iconic YouTube videos where someone has edited all the dialogue out of Shark Tank and Dr. Phil.
What would SUFF be without some delightfully depraved short films? This year is no exception with stories about bored clowns, lost virginities and female superheroes fighting a tampon monster. There’s also a documentary that journeys into the marketplace of used underwear, see, something for everyone. Special shoutout to the works of Bachelor of Visual Arts and Master of Moving Image students and grads, including Chris Bonador’s experimental Videomania in Pixelmosh and Andrew Robards’ Performance and Convenience, a phantasmagorical collision of television commercials and science how to’s.