“If you’re into cinema,” says Stefan Popescu, “come see something a little more… adventurous.” Popescu is director of the Sydney Underground Film Festival. He scrounges around the globe for subversive and bizarre examples of filmmaking. “Every year we look for the more out there, provocative and challenging stuff,” Popescu says. “I think we have short attention spans; no one has the time. So if you’re going to watch something: watch something with impact.”
The four-day festival will be held at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville. There are more than 100 screenings, alongside short-film sessions and Q&A sessions. Broadsheet has waded through the program and selected seven films worth seeing.
LOVE (Opening Night, in 3D)
2015, drama, directed by Gaspar Noé
An experiment in sentimental sexuality, Love is not for the giggle-prone. This fleshy tale features hardcore, point-of-view sex scenes. Criticised as egocentric, praised for being sensual and artful, Love needs to be seen to be understood. “There is penetrative sex on screen, but anyone with an artistic sensibility will think it’s unfair to call this 3D porn,” Popescu says. Noé manages to get across what the film is about, which is love in all its glory and tragedy.”
1995, drama, directed by Larry Clark
To celebrate its 20th anniversary, SUFF presents Larry Clark’s neorealist masterpiece Kids. This gritty film focuses on one day in the lives of New York City teens. It’s a harsh world of sex, hormones and drug use. “At the time it was groundbreaking,” Popescu says. “The sexuality of kids, and the tragedy of it, is full-on.”
2014, comedy, directed by Quentin Dupieux
Reality defies genre. It follows an oddball cameraman on a quest to find the best scream in the history of film. “It’s like Being John Malkovich meets Inception,” says Popescu. “It’s very playful, there’s lots of film-within-a-film-within-a-dream. It’s really trippy and you love the characters. It’s one of my favourites in the program.”
2015, documentary, directed by Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen
In 1982, two 11-year-old friends began shooting the greatest fan film ever made. This warm documentary tracks the story 20 years later, as they finally finish Raiders of the Lost Ark: The Adaptation. The film blends process, friendship and that special little buzz that’s only created by cinematic magic.
HEAVEN KNOWS WHAT
2014, drama, directed by Ben and Joshua Safdie
Arielle Holmes plays Harley, a heroin-addict based on Holmes. Her powerful performance is heightened by a deeply personal connection to the narrative. “It’s really gritty and raw,” Popescu says. “If anyone likes Requiem for a Dream, it’s right up your alley. You get that feeling of bodily dread when you watch it.”
THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING
2014, documentary, directed by Andy Bichlbaum, Mike Bonanno and Laura Nix
The Yes Men have been pranking corporate criminals for more than 20 years. This film follows their most outrageous tactics yet. “[Yes Men] came from that hacktivist era,” Popsecu explains. “They create these massive pranks on a global scale. At the moment there’s not really a trend of political art, so I really like stuff like this.”
KNOCK KNOCK (Closing Night)
2014, erotic horror, directed by Eli Roth
A masterpiece of sexploitation, Knock Knock is a fun and freaky thriller. Keanu Reeves plays middle-aged, married Evan. Two women hell-bent on destroying his quiet life home-invade the family. “It’s a very fun film,” Popsecu says. “Part of the comedy comes from a pre-conception of Keanu Reeves. It will have people talking at the end.”
The Sydney Underground Film Festival screens at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville from September 17–20. View the full program and book tickets from SUFF's website.