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As in years past, the 2017 Sydney Underground Film Festival exhibits no half measures in presenting the latest in off-kilter international cinema. The 11th annual event launches September 14 with an ironic ode to 80s VHS kitsch before wrapping four days later with the film that Variety intriguingly labelled “insufferable mishmash…almost entirely concerned with bodily functions and bodily fluids.”

Opening night honours fall to The Found Footage Festival, a snarky, giggly takedown of the weirdest clips gleaned from that decade when the video cassette ruled the earth. US comedy writers Joe Pickett and Nick Prueher (pictured, below) will front the audience at The Factory Theatre in Sydney’s inner-west and cast an irreverent eye over 90 minutes of PSA madness, regional news bloopers, TVC tastelessness and good ol’ Reagan era nationalism. The pair will also present a ‘Greatest Hits’-style show on Saturday 16th, chosen from footage collated since they launched their project in 2004.

The SUFF closer that so rattled the leading trade paper is Kuso, the directing debut of hip-hop artist Flying Lotus (aka Steve Ellison). An occasionally incomprehensible series of interwoven sketches set after a major Los Angeles earthquake, the film bowed at Sundance to an enraptured reception from the midnight movie crowd but suffered such critical brickbats as, “a noisy, lumpy collection of gross stuff” ( and a “warm, clumpy bath of repugnant ickiness,” (The Hollywood Reporter); The Verge said, “Kuso finds new ways to test viewers’ fortitude.” You have been warned…

The 2017 line-up includes six Australian premieres amongst the 20 feature films on offer. These are Le Bing Giang’s Vietnamese cannibal shocker, KFC; the Japanese cyberpunk splatterfest Meatball Machine Kodoku, from Yoshihiro Nishimura (Tokyo Gore Police; Zombie TV); Mika Rättö’s Samurai Rauni, a Finnish Wildman odyssey that has drawn compariosns to Tarantino, Winding Refn and Kusturica; and Umbilical World, a collection of the twisted visions of UK animator David Firth. Genre buffs will find it hard to split which will be the most anticipated of the Australian premieres - the fully restored version of the late George A Romero’s 1973 bio-horror classic The Crazies, or the seventh instalment in the Chucky franchise, Cult of Chucky (pictured, below), from director Don Mancini.

Films landing in Sydney for the first time include Liam Gavin’s Irish black magic thriller A Dark Song; the bad taste romance Assholes, from Peter Vack; the crude, camp blast that is Josh ‘Sinbad’ Collins’ Fags in The Fast Lane; Polish director Bartosz Kowalski’s shattering study of violence and disaffected youth, Playground; Tyler MacIntyre’s giddy, gory coming-of-rage comedy, Tragedy Girls; and, Bill Waterson’s mind-bending Dave Made a Maze (pictured, top), one of the most buzzed-about films on the international genre scene.

Nine Australian premieres highlight the 15-strong feature-length documentary program, with a typically high percentage dealing with the creative struggle. Amongst them are Brad Abraham’s Love and Saucers, a profile of alien abductee artist David Huggins; Pretend We’re Dead, Sarah Price’s ode to 90s all-girl grunge pioneers L7; Belgian director Breckt Debackere’s recounting of underground cinema’s earliest gatherings, entitled Exprmntl; Kristoffer Borgli’s dark satire on consumer nihilism, Drib; and, Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen in Time, a breathtakingly cinematic journey into silent cinema lore made possible by the discovery of rare nitrate film spools.

Also worth noting amongst the factual films on offer are Italian director Federica Di Giacomo’s study of modern exorcism practitioners, Liberami; Freedom For The Wolf, German filmmaker Rupert Russell’s in-depth account of the dismantling of democracy; and, Ulrich Seidl’s Safari, a glimpse inside the psyches of big game hunters that is sure to enrage and disturb.

Returning are the traditional short film strands, often featuring works that are the most closely aligned with true underground film aesthetics. The romance-themed Love/Sick features eight films from five countries, include Australian Lucy McKendrick’s My Shepherd; LSD Factory contains 11 mind-bending, challenging shorts, including works from Brazil (Gurcius Gewdner’s Goodbye Carlos) and Poland (Renata Gasiorowska’s Pussy); 11 mini-movies comprise the locally-produced showcase, Ozploit!; real world oddities and out-there visions make up the short-doc session, Reality Bites; and, the truly bizarre and often deeply disturbing play for the bravest of audiences in the WTF! Shorts line-up, including Cop Dog, the latest from Oscar-nominated Bill Plympton’s ‘Guard Dog’ series (pictured, right).

The 2017 SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL runs September 14-17 at The Factory Theatre in Sydney. Session and ticket information can be found at the event’s official website.

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