Sydney Underground Film Festival

The best and worst of the really bizarre stuff in alternative cinema culture.
Lauren Carroll Harris
Published on August 02, 2013


With its newly unveiled 2013 program, Sydney Underground Film Festival continues to hold a balance between the truly magic and truly terrible in contemporary cinema. Now in its seventh year at the Factory Theatre, SUFF is all about the really bizarre stuff in alternative cinema culture and a commitment to pushing film to the brink, no matter what the results.

SUFF opening night parties are consistently off the richter scale. This year's will screen cult director Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Dance of Reality, while closing night will show us whether Paul Schrader's (Taxi Driver and Raging Bull) decision to cast Lindsay Lohan in his erotic thriller The Canyons was genius or disastrous, and whether screenwriter Brett Easton Ellis has lost his mind once and for all.

Rockstar philosopher Slavoj Zizek's Pervert's Guide to Ideology was a highlight of the Sydney Film Festival, in turns hilarious and deeply intelligent. SUFF's local lineup is also rich, with Poor Little Rich Girls (After Warhol) by Alex Munt, starring Gracie Otto as Edie Sedgwick, and a series of Australia's best recent shorts in a night called Ozploit! Free Radicals spotlights experimental short filmmakers, and the demented Mr Doodleburger will terrorise audiences with live interpretations of the real Alf Stewart.

A new stream, Best Worst Films Bingo, features a 10th anniversary screening of Tommy Wiseau's The Room, which has almost certainly toppled Gigli to take the widely recognised, unofficial mantle of 'Worst Film Ever' (quite an accomplishment, as Gigli featured Jennifer Lopez as a lesbian criminal who turns for Ben Affleck's mafia guy). Nothing less than a major work of cinemasochistic genius, The Room continues to delight audiences with its astonishing combination of narcissism, undergraduate production values and inane plotting. For those who adore face-punchingly obvious green screens, minor characters who vanish as quickly as they’re introduced, and soap opera dialogue along the lines of "Lisa, you’re tearing me apart!", cinema really does get no better, or worse, than The Room.

We’re calling the frankly titled John Dies at the End, the hopefully helpful How to Make Money Selling Drugs and probably excellent Harry Dean Stanton: Partly Fiction as other highlights.


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