All things below the surface are brought above ground for Sydney Underground Film Festival (SUFF).
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, Sydney's current lockdown situation doesn't need to be the thing that stops people enjoying an offering of cinematic excellence. . . In fact, this year's programme – which stars 30 feature films and documentaries, more than 100 shorts, and a bunch of Australian premieres – can be viewed across the country, wherever you are!
All you need is a screen of some kind and an internet connection.
It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the programme of a film festival. With so much on offer, it's hard to know where to start. Well, here, Festival Director Katherine Berger kindly shares with us five hidden gems you can check out as part of the festival's 2021 programme.
Opening night: 'Sweetie, You Won't Believe It!'. We wanted to start the festival on a memorable note – so why not an absurd, genre-bending, violent and very funny film from Kazakhstan! 'Sweetie, You Won't Believe It!'. It’s about a trio of friends who go fishing the day before one of them becomes a father, but they accidentally witness a murder and now gangsters are after them, and a host of other characters that make this road trip one madcap adventure. It’s an absolute crowd-pleaser.
'Moments Like This Never Last'. Photographer and filmmaker Cheryl Dunn is a street photographer, always heading head first into the front lines to capture important moments in time. During the '90s and early 2000s she was intent to capture the lives and works of graffiti artists in New York City. She made friends with one of these graffiti artists, Dash Snow, who New York magazine once named one of “Warhol’s children”. This captivating cinematic portrait of Dash, a talented young man who sadly fell foul of that f...er-upper of everything: heroin. However, even though moments like this never last, the first-hand footage of Dash, Dash’s own footage, the streets of New York captured so viscerally, 9-11 footage just as it happens, and stories from those closest to Dash, create an incredible documentary that makes you feel like you were there.
'Hotel Poseidon'. With shades of early David Lynch and a mutant offspring of a Jean-Pierre Jeunet ('Delicatessen' especially), 'Hotel Poseidon' is definitely a hidden gem. While it may test your squeamishness, the film is wonderful for its abject beauty and indescribable-ness. The film centres on Dave, who has inherited the running of the family’s dilapidated hotel and as Dave wanders from room to room, we are treated to a highly surrealist and absurd number of characters and situations. Stefan Lernous’ film is unique and atmospheric and the strange arthouse film you have been waiting for.
REALITY BITES – short documentaries. We love the short documentaries session at SUFF as we always get such an interesting array of films submitted. This year is no different! We are pleased to announce the return of everyone’s favour stripper Andrea Werhun (star of last year’s 'Modern Whore') in the hilarious 'Last Night At The Strip Club'. Bill Morrison, the incredible filmmaker who uses found, decaying footage in his films, returns to SUFF with 'Buried News', where he uses four extremely rare newsreels from 1917 and 1920 to creates a wonderful and moving mediation on race and riots. Plus we met old burlesque performers in 'Chesty & Opal', the recently departed David Dees (who was a Sesame Street artist for 13 years who falls down the conspiracy rabbit hole) in 'Do You See What I See?' and several other great docs that deal with porn, the “gaytriachy”, Australian musicians, famous filmmakers and more.
'Alien On Stage'. Not really a hidden gem, in some respects, as this film has been playing film festivals all over the world – it’s 'Alien On Stage'. We really mean it when we say this film is a must-see as it’s the feel-good film of the year! It’s a film about an amateur theatre group made up of bus drivers from Dorset, England who wanted to give pantomimes a miss. So they create a serious stage show adaptation of the famous move 'Alien'. Fate takes them to perform it on London’s West End, they realise their production is actually a comedy and the rest is history. It will have you grinning from ear to ear!
Sydney Underground Film Festival takes place online from 9-26 September.