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Fantastic Film Festival Australia's 2023 Lineup Includes Nude 'Zoolander' and Scratch-and-Sniff 'Ninja Turtles'

Filled with weird, wild and wonderful movies, the two-week fest returns to Sydney and Melbourne in April.
By Sarah Ward
March 14, 2023
By Sarah Ward
March 14, 2023

The returning Fantastic Film Festival Australia isn't just about celebrating cult-classic movies. This cinema showcase is one of several in Australia that wears its love for the weird, wild and wonderful — the strange and surreal, too — on its screens, and that means going heavy on the latest flicks that fit that description. But when the Sydney and Melbourne event includes beloved retro titles on its lineup, it usually does something special with them. So, in 2023, as part of its just-announced program, it has particularly attention-grabbing plans for Zoolander and the OG Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action movie.

Ben Stiller's comedy about the world of modelling might be all about donning clothes, but FFFA's session of the film is going in the opposite direction, joining the fest's growing spate of nude screenings. The event debuted the concept in 2021, then brought it back in 2022 for the 25th anniversary of The Full Monty. Now, patrons are asked to wear nothing but their best blue steel look — or magnum if they prefer — while watching a really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking movie.

Clothes are required at FFFA's showings of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but don't worry about eating pizza beforehand — you'll be able to smell it during the session. The fest is going with a scratch-and-sniff experience, in what it's calling Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stink-O-Vision and will be a world-premiere. As you watch Leonardo, Donatello, Michelangelo and Raphael (and Sam Rockwell in a blink-or-you'll-miss-it part), you'll be told to scratch a card at certain moments to get smelling. Some scents will be tasty. Some definitely won't.

Running from Friday, April 14–Sunday, April 30 at Ritz Cinema in Randwick and Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn, FFFA's 2023 bill also features a 2K restoration of Takashi Miike's Audition, but mostly it's serving today's fresh flicks that'll be tomorrow's cult favourites. Opening the fest is Polite Society, about a martial artist-in-training endeavouring to save her sister from an arranged marriage — and a hit at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Closing it: LION-GIRL, a futuristic, post-apocalyptic sci-fi film about saving humanity (aren't they all?) that boasts character design by manga artist Go Nagai.

Elsewhere on its 2023 program, Fantastic Film Festival Australia will screen the 1997-set Zillion, the highest-grossing film in Belgium in 2022, which tells of a computer whiz who creates the biggest discotheque in the world; Evil Dead Rise, the latest title in the ongoing zombie franchise, and prime fodder for a midnight slot; and Holy Shit!, which is completely set in a portaloo rigged with explosives.

Or, there's a movie that FFFA is calling An Untitled and Perfectly-Legal Coming-Of-Age Parody Film — it isn't naming it because it was surrounded by controversy at its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival, but you can easily work out by a quick online search, especially if you're fond of comic-book characters. It'll screen with the director in attendance, in what'll be one of its rare public showings so far.

A number of Australian efforts are also on the lineup, starting with Rolf de Heer's The Survival of Kindness, which recently proved a hit at the Berlin International Film Festival. There's also Beaten to Death, a new-wave Ozploitation thriller set in remote Tasmania; the giallo-style Blur, about an investigation into a strange entity; and The End of History, about Australian techno producers Darcy and Pat as they chase their creative dreams in Berlin.

Back to the international flicks, Belgium's H4Z4RD has been compared to Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Estonia and Finland provide crime-caper comedy Hit Big, Spain's Manticore contemplates evil and French standout The Five Devils is about an eight-year-old with an inhuman sense of smell. Plus, Germany's The Ordinaries dives into a three-class society where a 'supporting character' wants to be a 'main character' — and Quantum Cowboys features Scream alum David Arquette and is designed to start a trilogy.

Also, on the events bill, FFFA is bringing back Music Video Blind Date, to connect Melbourne musos with filmmakers in the hopes of making music video magic.

Fantastic Film Festival Australia runs from Friday, April 14–Sunday, April 30 at Ritz Cinema, Randwick in Sydney and Lido Cinemas, Hawthorn in Melbourne. For more information or to buy tickets, head to the FFFA website.

Published on March 14, 2023 by Sarah Ward
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