Sydney Film Festival keeps Newtown weird

A few years ago Sydney Film Festival organisers went looking for somewhere to screen their “highly unusual,” movies safely away from the eyes of their regular daytime subscribers. Naturally they chose Newtown.

Since then Dendy Newtown has hosted a lot of the festival’s most outrageous fare  – like 2016’s Wild from Germany which featured a scene of wolf cunnilingus. Lupine adventures like that are not easily domesticated into regular arthouse cinemas (or anywhere else for that matter), though they barely raise an eyebrow on King St Newtown, apparently… Anyway now the popular inner west cinema has now become the permanent home to the festival’s Freak Me Out sidebar, which this year features seven sizzling sensations dredged from the creepy corners of the cinema world. Once again it is curated by the totally fearless Richard Kuipers.

If you’re looking for strange tales of deviant desire or just Brazilian werewolves, this is the place to start searching. And here’s the complete FMO at Dendy Newtown, in order of screening:

What Keeps You Alive
Jackie and her wife Jules are celebrating their anniversary in a lakeside cabin. But something’s very, very wrong. A riveting rural psycho-thriller and SXSW Midnighter selection. The Daily Dead called it a “heady thriller” that “gleefully pulls the rug out from beneath you time and time again.”
Dendy Newtown: Friday June 9 – 6.30pm

Ghost Stories
Three terrifying tales unfold in this anthology by Jeremy Dyson (The League of Gentlemen) and Andy Nyman (Dead Set). Martin Freeman features in this classy British chiller. New York Magazine said, ‘Pound for pound, it’s one of the creepiest movies of the year so far.”
Dendy Newtown: Monday June 11 – 8.35pm

Nicolas Pesce follows his monochrome nightmare The Eyes of My Mother with a colour-saturated tale of deviant desire and unspeakable urges. Labelled “Sundance’s kinkiest movie” by The Daily Beast, it also stars baby-faced Christopher Abbott (one of the very few nice boyfriends of Girls) as a suburban family man determined to capture, main and murder a female prostitute. He more than meets his match when the one he hires turns out to be Australia’s own Mia Wasikowska.
Dendy Newtown: Wednesday June 13 – 8.30pm

Good Manners
The werewolf movie comes alive again in a classy, scary and seductive Brazilian outing that won the Special Jury Prize at Locarno and the Critics’ Award at Sitges. “ It’s one of those films that needs to be seen to be believed,” writes Peter Turner in Starburst magazine. “Dealing with desire and death, growing pains and inequality, Good Manners is truly unique and surprisingly touching come the finale.”
Dendy Newtown: Thursday June 14 – 8.30pm

The Ranger
Hot from SXSW Midnighters comes Jenn Wexler’s rockin’ slasher about teenage punks who encounter a very strict and twisted park ranger while hiding out from the cops. “This is a fun throwback with a killer soundtrack, writes Screen Anarchy, “And enough solid kills…to sate spiky haired gorehounds everywhere.”
Dendy Newtown: Friday June 15 – 8.30pm

A Field Guide to Evil
Nine of the world’s best genre filmmakers tell creepy tales drawn from folklore in the spine-tingling new anthology from The ABCs of Death producers Ant Timpson and Tim League.
*Ant Timpson is a festival guest, and will be at the screenings with Richard Kuipers and a panel of horror experts discussing all things freaky.
Dendy Newtown: Saturday June 16 – 8.45pm

A special Sneak Freak Peek: the local premiere of Aussie genre maestro Leigh Whannell’s (Saw, Insidious) cyberpunk-horroraction-thriller. Winner, SXSW Midnighters Audience Award. Bloody Disgusting wrote, “[this] near-futuristic sci-fi flick is sometimes a tech thriller, sometimes a revenge actioner, sometimes a tragic film about loss. But it works best when it’s allowed to be a goofy blast…”
Festival screenings are at Event George St and new festival venue Randwick Ritz only, but Upgrade is also scheduled for general release on June 14.

* Sydney Film Festival runs 6-17 June. All festival films can be booked online of course, and SFF’s swish new website, especially the much needed improvements to its program schedule page makes planning your festival experience a breeze.