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Sydney Underground Film Festival Program

Written by Marcus Campbell on September 1, 2010

It’s that time of the year again when we can indulge in our repressed cinematic desires, step into foreign worlds and bizarre imaginaries and hopefully see and experience something new and exciting. Yes the Sydney Underground Film Festival is on again from 9-11th of September so its time to get political, unconventional and controversial.

Screening 89 films over one huge weekend, the 2010 SUFF includes films from ten countries internationally (10 full length feature films and 79 shorts) with 7 features being Australian premieres. Below is a short rundown of each of the feature films on offer this year and you can check out the full program here.


SOUTH OF THE BORDER (dir: Oliver Stone, USA)

There’s a revolution underway in South America, but most of the world doesn’t know it. Oliver Stone sets out on a road trip across five countries to explore the social and political movements as well as the mainstream media’s misperception of South America while interviewing seven of its elected presidents. In casual conversations with Presidents Hugo Chávez (Venezuela), Evo Morales (Bolivia), Lula da Silva (Brazil), Cristina Kirchner (Argentina), as well as her husband and ex-President Néstor Kirchner, Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Rafael Correa (Ecuador), and Raúl Castro (Cuba), Stone gains unprecedented access and sheds new light upon the exciting transformations in the region.

ENTER THE VOID (dir: Gaspar Noé, France)

Oscar and his sister Linda are recent arrivals in Tokyo. Oscar’s a small time drug dealer, and Linda works as a nightclub stripper. One night, Oscar is caught up in a police bust and shot. As he lies dying, his spirit, faithful to the promise he made his sister – that he would never abandon her – refuses to abandon the world of the living. It wanders through the city, his visions growing evermore distorted, evermore nightmarish. Past, present and future merge in a hallucinatory maelstrom.

RED, WHITE AND BLUE (dir: Simon Rumley, USA)

In Austin Texas, the lives of three young people – Erica, Franki and Nate – intertwine in a fateful, tragic way and head down a rocky and violent road to heart-rending oblivion.

Erica (Amanda Fuller) lives rent-free in the local co-op, but spends her nights trawling the bars and beds of Austin.  Damaged, emotionally withdrawn, never really connecting with anyone, and sleeping with multiple men is just what she does… until she meets the older and mysterious Nate (Noah Taylor), working in a hardware store, but with an “honorable discharge” from Iraq.

Despite his quiet air of danger, Nate’s the only guy who doesn’t seem to want to get her into bed at the first opportunity, and the two form a hesitant bond.   But one of Erica’s casual sexual encounters is about to bite back.

Franki (Marc Senter) is a young, hot-headed wannabe rock star trying to make it big. Looking after a sick mother and estranged from his long term girlfriend, he “shared” Erica with his buddies one drunken evening.  A shocking twist of fate is all it takes throws his already crazy world into a spin, and in Franki’s eyes there is only one person to blame…

MEAT (dir: Victor Nieuwenhuijs & Maartie Seyferth, Netherlands)

A butcher operates what appears to be an ordinary meat market and Roxy is a pretty girl who helps out in the shop. She videos everything as part of her search for answers, her limits, her life. As the butcher gets into her head, they’re lives start to become involved. After hours, there isn’t the ordinary employer/employee relationship as they take part in bizarre sexual game playing, with Roxy capturing the action on her video camera. Yet to Roxy’s horror, she discovers their kinky after-hours activities are not the only thing at the shop that would shock their customers. When the miserable inspector comes to investigate the mysterious demise of the butcher, it seems that there is only one solution for the puzzle: recreate the death of the butcher.

THE TAINT (dir: Drew Buldoc & Dan Nelson, USA)

The water is tainted. The Taint poisons the minds of men. It turns them into raging misogynists: monsters who want nothing more than to crush women’s heads with rocks(or other objects). When society is transformed into a land of sadistic violence and horrible brutality, it is up to Phil O’Ginny and his hot friend, Misandra, to combat the horrible evil that is The Taint. Can they survive a world brimming with castration and endless head crushing?! The Taint is an independent low-budget horror-comedy feature film created by Drew Bolduc and Dan Nelson. It is a satirical horror-comedy that seeks to expose the misogynistic nature of many Hollywood and Independent films, by being one of the most misogynistic films of all time.  It was made for roughly $5,000 dollars and quite a good deal of blood, sweat, and tears.

AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY (dir: Matt Harlock & Paul Thomas, USA)

15 years after his death Bill Hicks (16/12/61 – 26/2/94), is now more popular than ever, and is widely seen as one of the best comedian of the modern era. However, in America, where he challenged institutions and accepted ways of thinking, he suffered censorship and was never truly recognised by a wide audience. In the country which enshrines freedom of speech in its constitution his story is truly about what it means to be an American.

Now Bill’s remarkable story is brought to life in AMERICAN: THE BILL HICKS STORY, a feature-length documentary which combines live action with a stunning new animation technique manipulating 1,000s of photographs to uniquely immerse the audiences in his world, which is re-told from the point-of-view of the people who shared it with him.

LIFE AND DEATH OF A PORNO GANG (dir: Mladen Djordjevic, Serbia)

This razor-sharp and often perversely comic metaphor about the social pathologies of Serbian life in the 1990s was a major hit at the Rotterdam Film Festival. A travelling “porno cabaret” journeys from village to village across rural Serbia, performing live sex acts in radical framings as a means of sexual confrontation, often provoking violent responses from the locals. Situations take a turn for the darker when the troupe are approached by a shady foreign war correspondent who makes them an offer they struggle against refusing—a ton of money in exchange for shooting actual murders, theatrically “performed” on willing, consensual victims who no longer care about living.

BIKER FOX (dir: Jeremy Lamberton, USA)

Biker Fox is the story of Frank P. DeLarzelere III aka Biker Fox, Tulsa, Oklahoma’s misunderstood motivational bicyclist, nature conservationist and muscle car guru. Part-documentary and part-self-help testimonial, the film navigates the uneasy relationships DeLarzelere has with both the city of Tulsa and himself, as his Biker Fox character’s intentions of spirited goodwill sometimes neglect certain boundaries.

EL MONSTRO DEL MAR! (dir: Stuart Simpson, Australia)

After breaking down in their car in the middle of nowhere the three girls lure a car down to help them. But instead of waiting for the two men to get them back on the road, they pull out their switch blades and slit both their throats and steal their car. They set out towards their destination, a beach shack in a small isolated town to lay low for a while. But it doesn’t take them long to totally disrupt this tiny fishing community with their loud, brash and don’t take any shit attitudes. After swimming in the water and after being warned not to go in there (by a furious Joseph) they awaken the ancient evil that has plagued the town for as long as they can remember. That night the girls try to corrupt the innocent Hannah by getting her drunk while the local fishermen are ripped apart by the massive sea creature. The next morning, after discovering the bloody mess left behind, including one of their own, the girls go back to interrogate Joseph about what the hell is out there. Before long the answer is on their door step and the four of them (two Vixens, Hannah and Joseph) must fight for their lives in the confines of a small wooden shack.

Influences for the film range from the characters in Russ Myer’s Faster Pussycat Kill Kill and Ernest Hemingway’s classic book The Old Man and the Sea to the epic atmosphere of John Huston’s Moby Dick and Steven Spielberg’s Jaws.  It also draws reference from the stylistic violence of George Miller’s Mad Max and the playful Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead.

TRASH HUMPERS (dir: Harmony Korine, USA)

A film unearthed from the buried landscape of the American nightmare, TRASH HUMPERS follows a small group of elderly ‘Peeping Toms’ through the shadows and margins of an unfamiliar world. Crudely documented by the participants themselves, we follow the debased and shocking actions of a group of true sociopaths the likes of which have never been seen before. Inhabiting a world of broken dreams and beyond the limits of morality, they crash against a torn and frayed America. Bordering on an ode to vandalism, it is a new type of horror – palpable and raw.

DATE: 9th – 11th September, 2010
LOCATION: Factory Theatre, Marrickville

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