There hasn’t been much to get excited about during the pandemic, but seeing fantastic film festivals jump online and offer their usually city-limited programs to Australians everywhere is definitely a rare silver lining in these difficult times. One such fest doing just that is the Sydney Underground Film Festival, which went completely virtual in 2020 and is repeating the feat in 2021.
As Sydney’s go-to event for all flicks weird, wonderful, out-there and anarchic, SUFF will keep doing what it’s been doing well for 15 years now — but by beaming an impressive heap of movies into homes around the country. From Thursday, September 9–Sunday, September 26, cinephiles looking for something other than the usual streaming options can binge their way through the fest’s 30 features and documentaries. If you like your strange and surreal movies in bite-sized servings, there’ll also be nine short film programs featuring more than 100 titles.
From the full-length selection, highlights include opening night’s road trip comedy Sweetie, You Won’t Believe It from Kazakhstan-based director Yernar Nurgaliyev; documentary Alien on Stage, about a group of UK bus drivers who decided to create their own amateur stage production based on Ridley Scott’s famous sci-fi/horror classic; and Poly Styrene: I Am a Cliché, which explores X-Ray Spex frontwoman Poly Styrene’s story from her daughter’s viewpoint.
Other standouts span Cannon Arm and the Arcade Quest, which follows an attempt to become the first in the world to play an arcade machine from the early 80s for 100 hours in a row; absurdist Japanese comedy Wonderful Paradise, as based around an eviction street party in the Tokyo suburbs; and coming-of-age comedy-thriller First Date. Or, there’s Fanny: The Right To Rock, about the first all-woman band to release an album with a major record label; Ukranian effort Stranger, which sees people start to disappear from bodies of water; and Lorelai, starring familiar faces Pablo Schreiber and Jena Malone in thoughtful drama about working class life in America.
SUFF will also celebrate the 40th anniversary of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Miss Osbourne, which stars the inimitable Udo Kier and isn’t your usual take on the famous tale — because, just like attending ace film fests, celebrating big cinematic milestones is also something you can do at home.
The digital-only 2021 Sydney Underground Film Festival will run from Thursday, September 9–Sunday, September 26. For further information, or to buy tickets, head to SUFF’s website.
Published on August 19, 2021 by Sarah Ward