Lindsay Lohan

The 2013 Sydney Underground Film Festival takes over the Factory Theatre this weekend with a celebration of fringe cinema, freaky films – and trashy flicks that are so-bad-they’re-good.

The inaugural Best Worst Films Bingo sessions feature a line-up of some of the world’s most-loved cinematic disasters including Troll 2, Birdemic 2: The Resurrection and a special 10th anniversary screening of Tommy Wiseau’s grand cinematic folly The Room, all with bingo games for the audience.

“The community aspect of it all makes it something of a new genre – these films have been around for forever, but it’s rare for these sort of films that the director gets to profit from it in their lifetime.

“For something like The Room, I’ve seen it a good 10 times, and yet I can’t wait to be in an audience again to see it with people – it’s that community aspect of it that’s such a great experience,” festival co-director Stefan Popescu told the Star Observer.

“One of the defining features of this subgenre is that you have to make the film in all earnestness, but fail spectacularly.”

Based on initial reviews, that sounds a perfect description for another film screening at the festival: The Canyons, writer Bret Easton Ellis’s trashy meditation on sex in modern Los Angeles starring acting heavyweights Lindsay Lohan and porn star James Deen.

Popescu, however, insists the film is actually quite good – honest.

“It’s almost [American Psycho’s] Patrick Bateman updated for the 21st century. It’s where social media and sexuality interact – the fact we can all make porn ourselves on our phones. It’s an interesting film because you don’t expect a great deal from Lindsay Lohan, but she’s pretty damn good in this,” he said.

We’re not entirely convinced, but no matter, because there are plenty of other unusual cinematic treats on offer across the festival’s four days – including short film sessions on themes such as Ozploitation,  fetish cinema, and Popescu’s favourite, the ‘LSD Factory’ screening – a full Saturday afternoon of shorts to make you question your own sanity (and indeed those of the film makers).

Queer viewers should also seek out the feature Big Joy: The Adventures of James Broughton, a cinematic tribute to the influential queer filmmaker.

“He was quite the character – his films really challenged a lot of heteronormative ideals at the time the sexual revolution was on the cusp of kicking off.”

While ‘Underground’ may seem a loose term nowadays – and a particularly tenuous label for a film starring Lindsay Lohan – Popescu explained he used a pretty simple measurement to see whether a film would be a good fit for the festival.

“Our main ethos is we really want to celebrate difference, first and foremost. So much cinema doesn’t do that. We want our films to push a boundary, be it political, aesthetic, challenging social norms…we want to show that cinema is a progressive art form and things are moving forward,” he said.

INFO: Sydney Underground Film Festival, September 5-8 at Factory Theatre.

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