Fantastic Film Festival Australia

Rebecca Varidel
16th Mar 2023

Daring, unconventional, and cutting-edge cinema is returning to Sydney with the highly anticipated return of the Fantastic Film Festival Australia. Running from 14 - 30 April, the Festival promises to captivate curious audiences with its panoramic celebration of new and provocative films.

This year, the Festival is proud to showcase the best of local filmmaking talent, alongside a carefully curated selection of international films that push the boundaries of cinematic subversion.

With an impressive line-up of 27 features, the Festival promises to be its biggest program yet. From animated cowboys to queer magical realism, shit-stained deathtraps to outback horrors, this year's program is a treasure trove of weird and wonderful curiosities. Alongside the diverse range of films, the Festival is offering a slew of special events, including Q&A screenings, live performances, a world-first scratch-and-sniff screening, music video blind dates, and their highly-anticipated nude sessions.

According to Festival Director, Hudson Sowada, "This year's program pushes the limits of storytelling and challenges conventional notions of reality. We're excited to showcase such an eclectic range of films, and we encourage audiences to take risks and embrace the strange. We're thrilled to be back and we can't wait to share these daring and unconventional films with our audiences."

The Festival will kick off with Polite Society, an outrageously entertaining and distinctively unique genre mash-up that premiered earlier this year at Sundance Film Festival. The film follows Ria Khan, a martial artist-in-training, on a mission to save her sister Lena from an arranged marriage. With her friends, Ria attempts the most ambitious wedding heist in the name of independence and sisterhood.

The Fantastic Film Festival goes beyond traditional cinema experiences with the world's first scratch and sniff session - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Stink-O-Vision - where audiences are taken on a scent-sational journey through the sewers of New York City. Accompanied by a menu of bespoke scents, simply scratch the corresponding number on the scent card when the icon flashes on screen. And, the wildly popular nude screening returns with Zoolander, featuring the hilarious adventures of male models in a world of high fashion and assassination plots.

The Festival program features four local Australian films: The Survival of Kindness an allegorical journey across a plague-ravaged wilderness by legendary filmmaker Rolf de Heer who will be in attendance for a Q&A at the first Sydney screening; Beaten to Death a savage cat-and-mouse game set in remote Tasmania; and Blur a Giallo-style psycho-horror with supernatural mystery and ghastly practical effects. The End of History depicts Australian techno producers Darcy and Pat's pursuit of creative greatness in changing Berlin, showcasing the DIY filmmaking spirit and creative sacrifice. The Fantastic Film Festival also presents a unique, immersive event of Text Messages from the Universe a cinematic blend of text and dance action inspired by The Tibetan Book of the Dead and featuring live accompaniment by the author and director, Richard James Allen, with tickets including a copy of the book.

Huge international feature films will also get their Australian Premiere at the 2023 Sydney screenings. Zillion the biggest grossing film in Belgium last year, is set in 1997 and follows a computer genius who creates the biggest discotheque in the world. Holy Shit! is a gross-out comedy and survival thriller set entirely in a Portaloo that’s packed with explosives. And the new entry into the Evil Dead franchise, Evil Dead Rise will enjoy a midnight showing at the Festival.

After having its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, a film that is so courted in controversy it can’t even be named in the program will screen at FFFA. This secret presentation of what the Festival is calling An Untitled and Perfectly-Legal Coming-Of-Age Parody Film will give audiences a rare chance to be among some of the few people in the world to watch this film. The director will be joining for a series of in-person Q&As.

Closing the Festival in showstopping style is the modern exploitation film LION-GIRL a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film about the last defender of humanity against the ANOROC, a new species that emerged after a tsunami of meteors. Featuring character design by the legendary Manga artist Go Nagai, the film promises an outrageous and unhinged story, along with practical effects and gratuitous nudity.

2023 Fantastic Film Festival Australia
Friday, 14 April – Sunday 30 April 2023
Ritz Cinemas, Randwick