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A silver screen with a difference: Sydney Underground Film Festival

Sometimes you just want to sit in the dark with a drink in one hand, gummy bears in the other, surrounded by like-minded people who are about to be entertained. You want something a little off-the-wall, something surprising, something, dare I say it, underground. The long and short of it is that you want to be cool. Not in a Tarantino-nerd kind of way, more in a Serge Gainsbourg & Jane Birkin kind of way.

Okay, so perhaps Serge & Jane are a little out of reach for most of us, but this weekend you may be able to gain an inkling of their cool when the Sydney Underground Film Festival takes over the inner west for just four action-packed nights. Opening tomorrow and finishing up on Sunday, the festival begins with Sgt Ballsacks Comedy Corner and moves onto experimental films, docos, features and ground-breaking animation. They’ve also thrown in a dash of steamy sex, a foreskin fable, a history of hip hop, some seriously funny pranks and a trip to somewhere darker and smellier with John Water’s infamous smellovision classic, Pink Flamingos.


A scene from The Yes Men Fix the World


To understand the magic behind this weird and wonderful collation of film, I spoke to the festival’s programming director (and co-founder) Stefan Popescu.

How did you managed to score such a great job?

I have always made films, and I completed my PhD in Media Arts and lecture in film at Sydney College of the Arts. In mid-2006 Katherine [Berger, the festival director] and I were driving around one day and started discussing the lack of a more alternative film festival in Sydney. The next day, we registered the Sydney Underground Film Festival.

Do you have a specific theme in mind when you coordinate the program of the festival?

We kind of let the entries and the political and world events loosely shape the program. This year, particularly because of the global financial crisis, the subliminal theme is anti-corporate. For example, this is seen in the films The Yes Men Fix the World, Blue Gold: World Waters Wars and some other short films.

What filmmakers have you been really excited about, past and present?

There have been numerous, but definitely George Gittoes’ film, The Miscreants, which opened the festival last year. It screened at one of the world’s most prestigious film festivals, Telluride, last weekend. This year the features are all really great but a great discovery is the doco-drama called Life with Ashley by a 23-year-old director named Chris Butler. He has created an engrossing yet equally disturbing portrait of a young brother and sister. It’s incredible how this film just stayed with us – we just haven’t been able to stop talking about it!

Oh, did I mention the price of the opening night ticket will get you pizza, Fat Yak beer, Kamahl (yes, that one) live performances AND some great movies? No! How silly of me. Just three more reasons to buy yourself a ticket.

Sydney Underground Film Festival is on at the Factory Theatre in Marrickville from Thursday to Sunday.




The full program and tickets can be purchased from the festival’s website.

We have a double-pass up for grabs to this Sunday’s closing night film, White Lightnin’, a white-trash psychobilly nightmare. Email your details and why you can’t live without seeing the film to giveaways@sidestreetsydney.com.au.


words: Kristen Hodges

3 comments:

September 9, 2009 at 2:20 PM Mazz said...

White Lightnin' is an awesome film and this is a wicked giveaway! Everyone hustle down to this years fest as it's a wicked program. Hustle, hustle.

September 11, 2009 at 2:56 PM Kristen Hodges said...

The opening night was fabulous.

The short films Cattle Call and My Name is Pochsy were great fun and the feature for the night, The Yes Men Fix the World, was really funny, shocking and certainly got me thinking!

If you're around, go check it out!!! The Yes Men is playing again on Sunday arvo I believe.

October 22, 2010 at 3:20 PM arts college said...

How could I have missed such this Sydney Underground Film Festival. Wish there will be another festival this year.

 
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