Fantastic Film Festival Australia Preview

In just its first two years, the Fantastic Film Festival Australia has wowed cinema audiences who crave the weird and wonderful from their movies. Bringing an eclectic variety of genres, cult and arthouse cinema both old and new from around the globe, FFFA is back for a third instalment happening at Lido Cinemas Melbourne and Ritz Cinemas Sydney from April 21 – May 6. 

While Festival Director Hudson Sowada admits the festival has been lucky in terms of the timing in its first two years which he described as “landing in between peaks of COVID-19”, the cinema space, the audience and that communal aspect it brings is such a vital part to the FFFA experience. “The Festival has been dedicated to being an in-person event since day 1.” Sowada explains “We really had no plan for any online screenings. These events are really about the people, the community and having everyone in the same room together. We’re really committed to that and we’re really lucky to do that year after year.”

Despite COVID-19 bringing the filmmaking world to a standstill, Sowada was thrilled that it didn’t translate to a slump of quality films. “I had great stuff to watch all year round and it didn’t seem like filmmakers were put off from making awesome work due to the impending danger of COVID-19.” Sowada continues. “I watched 200+ movies while programming this festival and there was a lot of high quality and exciting stuff out there in the mix this year”. With 22 features and 8 shorts in the 2022 program, including a midnight screening of the hotly anticipated Robert Eggers film The Northman that will kick off the festivities, there’s no shortage of crazy and diverse cinema that FFFA has to offer. Here are just some of what you can catch at FFFA in 2022:

After Blue (Dirty Paradise)

FFFA brings the Australian premiere of the sophomore feature from french experimental filmmaker Betrand Mandico, After Blue (Dirty Paradise), a high concept, high fashion queer sci-fi epic set on alien planet (possibly the greatest description for any film ever made). 

Programmer’s Take: “It follows a mother and daughter on their quest to hunt down a notorious killer, Kate Bush. They’re armed with Gucci rifles and have to survive this toxic oozing planet and all its lusty inhabitants and it’s just crazy. It’s such a vivid portrait of this insane planet.”

New York Ninja 

A lost relic of trashy 80s action cinema has been resurrected almost 40 years later. Shot back in 1984 but never completed, the unedited negatives of New York Ninja were dug up with no script and no sound and an incredible team of filmmakers have restored, reconstructed and revoiced the entire film. The result is a delicious slice of 80s insanity.

Programmer’s Take: “We now get to witness this bombastic 80s extravaganza full of roller skating ninjas and mutant serial killers with a great soundtrack. It’s a stunning portrait of New York as well, like the restoration is so good, it just feels like it’s been lost and we get to witness the past again.”

We’re All Going To The World’s Fair 

One of the breakout hits of Sundance 2021 that not so much got under the skin of audiences, but burrowed deep underneath and refused to resurface. The film follows a teenage girl taking part in an ominous online challenge that supposedly causes reality-altering effects on its participants.

Programmer’s Take: “I was watching this film with my partner and she had to leave the room because it was too emotionally and thematically intense in a really great way. As the main character records these video diaries of her experiences and the changes to her reality, you get this imposing sense of doom surrounding her as she’s losing track of reality and it’s haunting. It gives you that feeling of being lost on youtube and you watch these videos that have like one or two views and the algorithm is just giving you weirder and weirder and weirder videos.”

The Full Monty (25th Anniversary Nude Screening)

Yes, you read that correctly. FFFA made news across the country last year with their screening of the Belgian film Patrick about a murder mystery set inside a nudist colony where patrons watched the film in their birthday suits. This unique and rather unusual cinematic experience (not to mention safe and hygienic) was a rousing success, so much so they are doing it all again in 2022 to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Oscar nominated comedy classic, The Full Monty.

Programmer’s Take: “It was a wonderful event last year and we’re doing it again. And The Full Monty is such an awesome movie, you know its ideas about masculinity, body positivity, relationships and employment are all as in tune today as they were back then. It was nominated for Best Picture against Titanic! How good is that! Comedies just aren’t given that sort of credibility now and it’s a really special film that’s gonna be a lot of fun to watch naked with everyone.”

Fantastic Film Festival Australia is screening at Lido Cinemas in Melbourne and Ritz Cinemas in Sydney from April 21 – May 6. To view the full program, buy tickets or find out more information about the festival, head to fantasticfilmfestival.com.au

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