Over 3 Tuesdays starting on September 17, the Thornbury Picture House in Melbourne will present a series of screenings of low-budget, cutting-edge Australian feature films, from emerging filmmakers. Each screening will be a special event, with director Q&As.
Two of the films will be screened publicly for the first time.
Amongst the works is the sci-fi tinged experimental feature Reflections in the Dust, a renegade documentary-narrative hybrid described as an allegory about domestic violence against women in Australia.
The showcase is curated by Senses of Cinema online journal founder and independent film patron saint Bill Mousoulis (with Chris Luscri), who has a long history of championing alternative/underground filmmakers.
A filmmaker himself, Mousoulis began making films in 1982 at the age of 19, and has made over 100 films spanning Europe and Australia including two features in Greece, with funding but also without.
Mousoulis has long been an advocate for filmmaking as an alternative, grass-roots practice, with a focus on community. He formed the Melbourne Super-8 Film Group in 1985, a group that was a hub for indie filmmakers in the pre-digital age, for over 10 years, with festivals and monthly screenings and publications.
As well as being active in making movies, Mousoulis has also curated programs for other organisations, including the Melbourne International Film Festival.
Whilst a key figure in the local film sphere for a number of years, it was an 8-year stint in Greece which re-invigorated Mousoulis to return home and strive for further appreciation and advancement of alternative Australian film.
For the Adelaide/Melbourne-based programmer, the events are an opportunity to spotlight marginal voices and ideas, to do what cinema is meant to – tie people together.
“This series is about community, about having these young, indie filmmakers interact directly with an audience,” he told us.
Supporters of innovative works of all lengths and forms, Mousoulis and Luscri also present monthly screenings in Melbourne of overlooked vintage and experimental Australian shorts, features and documentaries, with the filmmakers in attendance, under the banner Unknown Pleasures.
It is these bold creations pushing the norms, which Mousoulis believes need supporting.
“All the films in the Australian New Wave series have been produced outside the normal industrial parameters for making feature films, i.e. they have been made without funding, without investors, and primarily with actors and crew members working for free.
“All three films in this series do not rely on any conventional storylines of ambition or desire, and the obstacles to obtaining those by the protagonist. These films are mainly multi-protagonist pieces, with fractured narratives, their resolutions are hard-fought and tentative,” Mousoulis told us.
“I wanted to screen these particular works because they are all radical in their form, by filmmakers who are not afraid to try something different. Look at Reflections In The Dust – who would have thought such a grotesque Eastern-European art film could be made by a young Australian director fresh out of film school? And Matthew Victor Pastor (director of Repent or Parish!) is a hyper-active dynamic filmmaker who is making several features each year at the moment, which is unheard of in Australia. 10 features done by the age of 30!
“You Can Say Vagina is unique in its form, crossing a quirky comedy with a touching realistic study of an estranged young woman on the run from home. As I watch this film, I marvel at the precise beauty of it, its unusual tone and style, that Australian cinema never approaches. Australian cinema is stuck in just naturalistic stories or genre films, nothing else tends to get made,” he noted.
In 2018, Mousoulis curated a cluster of alternative films for the Adelaide Film Festival under the banner Australian New Wave – which is where the idea germinated.
The initial line-up included experimental Adelaide practitioner Allison Chhorn’s short film The Last Time, and Matthew Victor Pastor’s feature Melodrama/Random/Melbourne!, a guerilla “pop-punk extravaganza”.
Following its debut at the South Australian film festival, it was staged in Melbourne in October 2018. The showcase will again travel to Adelaide in October 2019. Mousoulis hopes his aim will be embraced, believing a focus on marginal voices is crucial.
“It is a necessary programming idea, to assist more alternative filmmakers get more exposure, as we are now in an age where the main film festivals in Australia have become more commercialised, and shy away from true indie work,” he added.
On Tuesday, September 17, the film Repent or Perish! will have its World Premiere. This portrait of a Filipino-Australian family in Melbourne is an eye-opener, directed by Melbourne’s maverick filmmaker Matthew Victor Pastor, who has been called “Australia’s fastest and most prolific filmmaker”. An energetic slice-of-life, the film will be followed by a Q&A helmed by The Age’s film reviewer Jake Wilson.
On Tuesday, September 24, the film Reflections in the Dust by Sydney filmmaker Luke Sullivan will screen. Sullivan is Australian cinema’s enfant terrible at the moment, with outspoken comments such as “Our industry are a bunch of wimps”. His feature Reflections in the Dust is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi film delving into the terrain of female abuse, and has been called a “once in a lifetime masterpiece” by one critic. Sullivan will be flying down from Sydney for the Q&A, which will be moderated by critic/curator Cerise Howard.
On Tuesday, October 1, You Can Say Vagina, directed by Jack Baka (in reality: Siobhan Jackson and Mischa Baka) will screen, followed by a Q&A helmed by The Australian film reviewer Phillipa Hawker in what will be the film’s first public screening. A coming-of-age story of a young woman (a brilliant performance by Lucy Orr), the film is part quirky comedy, part touching drama, part dance film, and it is directed in a magical way by Jack Baka, with whimsy but also realism.
More information and tickets are available through the Thornbury Picture House website – http://thornburypicturehouse.com.au/