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Nimic by Yorgos Lanthimos starring Matt Dillon
Nimic by Yorgos Lanthimos starring Matt Dillon

Sydney’s leading festival for cult and underground film, the Sydney Underground Film Festival (SUFF), is back for its 14th year from Thursday September 10 – Sunday September 20, 2020, all taking place entirely online

The 2020 line-up features over 100 short films from 20 different countries.

Highlights include the latest from leader of the ‘Greek Weird Wave’, Yorgos Lanthimos (Dogtooth, Killing of a Sacred Deer, The Favourite) in NIMIC, starring Matt Dillon as a professional cellist and family man whose life is irrevocably altered after a strange confrontation on the subway, and festival favorite and Canadian master of the absurd, Guy Maddin, with Stump the Guesser, following a fairground psychic whose gifts are compromised after he falls in love with his long-lost sister.

Returning to the Festival line up are the short film sessions OZPLOIT! (a focus on Australian short films), WTF! (shorts that will mess with your head), REALITY BITES (short documentaries), LSD FACTORY (mind-melting shorts), and LOVE/SICK (date night session? – or maybe not!) alongside two all-new programs: SH!T SCARED, dedicated to new horror shorts, and LATE NIGHT CARTOONS, a session showcasing whacked-out animations for grown-ups.

Joining the program for the second year will be the TAKE48 Film Challenge, a filmmaking competition taking place for 48 hours from Friday August 28 to Sunday August 30.

Stefan Popescu, Festival Director noted, “It is important to use the inherent ‘communal’ properties of film making to relieve some of the anxiety of these crazy times – to take 48hrs out and bond with your friends over something creative. We will be online for the entire 48 hours of the film challenge to offer help and advice to the participating filmmakers.”

Fellow Festival Director, Katherine Berger, went on to say, “With so much uncertainty this year, sadly we were unable to forge ahead with a physical festival but felt it was important to stay connected to the film festival community. It’s actually an exciting prospect to be able to offer a collection of short film programs to a worldwide audience.”

The Festival goes live online at 12:01 am on September 10, with films available to watch on demand for the duration of the ten-day event. A single ticket will be $10, with the complete online Festival pass available for $55, allowing audiences to watch the full Festival offering at any time across its duration.

2020 Festival highlights

The OZPLOIT! program, showcasing 12 of the best films from emerging Australian filmmakers made in the past year, with films covering dystopian science fiction (Baby), mind-bending horrors (Dark Water, Stick), innovative animations (On) and stories of redemption (At the Edge of Night) and revenge (Fourteen, Kapara).

REALITY BITES: Bite-sized documentaries including Cinema Rules Everything Around Me, The Throwback and Stranger/Things, which explores how the friendship between Wim Wenders and Jim Jarmusch inspired the creation of indie classic Stranger than Paradise. Darling Pet Monkey, an animated look at the bizarre chain of events that take place when two young brothers order a pet monkey from a delivery catalogue, and The Deepest Hole, that tells the story of the race between the US and Russia to dig the world’s deepest hole (and speculates that the gates of hell may have been discovered in the process). Topical short documentaries that chronicle the current state of gender and sexuality in Modern Whore, tackling stigmas around modern sex work, The Paint Wizzard profiling Millie McCrory, a trans woman living in America’s hostile south and It’s Coming, exploring how the implementation of AI is radically transforming the sex industry.

LOVE/SICK’s series of salacious and titillating films, from Deep Clean, which shows just how much fun one man can have with a vacuum, to tales of ghost orgies (F*cking Ghosts), bourgeoning urolagnia (Stream) erotic cannibalism (Nailbiter) and extreme food fetishism (Dinner for Two).

LSD FACTORY’s suite of experimental works that challenge our perceptions of reality, from digital glitch works (Wrik Mead’s Broken Relationship) frenetic fantasies (Josh Owen’s Ghoulish Galactic Grievances), psychedelic animations (Stephen Irwin’s Wood Child and the Hidden Forest Monster) to a puzzle box psycho-drama (Susie by
Australian expat Jordan Doig)

A special follow-up session to SUFF 2019’s “Independence, Rockets and Borsch”, Ukrainian-focused films programmed by Julian Knysh.

LATE NIGHT CARTOONS, taking influence from programs like Liquid Television, Eat Carpet and Adult Swim, to showcase the year’s weirdest independent animations for adults, best watched very late at night, with Norwegian animation Farce, telling the story of a Sami reindeer herder who must save his wife and his beloved animals when his life begins to spiral out of control; Deep Love, a sweeping political critique of daily life in the Ukraine; and the illuminating and insightful Sweet Sweet Kink, an animated documentary that presents a triptych of perspectives about three peoples’ first encounters with the BDSM lifestyle.

SH!T SCARED, containing the year’s most terrifying and atmospheric horror shorts. Direct from Sundance, The Devil’s Harmony follows a bullied high school acapella club on a trail of bloody destruction, the highly unnerving Australian short Bedtime, in which an overworked mother suspects that someone or something might be harming her young son, and an illusory tale of paranoia and fear in Laura Hasn’t
Slept, starring Australia’s own Caitlin Stasey.

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