Programme notes: Super 8 Dreams by Bill Mousoulis
Super 8 films from Australia in the 1980s
Acclaimed Greek-Australian filmmaker Bill Mousoulis (9 features to his name) started making films in 1982, by utilising the Super 8 medium. By the end of the '80s, he had made over 40 short Super 8 films, and we present 8 of the best ones in this special programme.
From narrative works showing Mousoulis' development from Spielbergian sentimentalism to Bressonian formalism, to non-narrative works showing Mousoulis' growing interest in the auto-portrait and essay modes, this is a rare glimpse into a particular time and artistic space.
The original Super 8 films themselves will be projected, on loan from the National Film and Sound Archive.
Dreams Never End (1983, 9 mins)
Delirious narrative film, a look at the life of a 16-year-old girl, played by Mousoulis’ sister Mary.
"The Bresson of Super-8, Bill Mousoulis, makes films which are a sublime and quizzical mix of down-home observational physicality and transcendental spirituality, luminous with both the sadness and potentiality of individual dreaming. You won't believe it until you see it. Dreams Never End is a classic." - Adrian Martin, film critic, 1986.
No.16 in "28 All-Time Greats of Super-8" by Mark Titmarsh, Limit of Maps, Spring 1985.
In a Lonely Place (1982, 4 mins)
The first of Mousoulis' films to consciously attempt an impressionistic, experimental style.
It is also the first time Mousoulis started playing with the idea of the "subversive music clip", taking a known song and putting his own images to it.
J.C.: The Jewellery-Case (1984, 10 mins)
Another delirious “home movie” type narrative film, again featuring family and friends of Mousoulis. A tribute/parody of Spielberg and E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.
"Dreams Never End and J.C.: The Jewellery-Case are both extremely personal, and, to borrow a term from Paul Schrader, exhibit what might be called a "transcendental film style". These films' undeniable honesty renders all cynicism impotent." - Andrew Preston, Filmnews, 1985.
The Green Door (1986, 5 mins)
Mousoulis films moments in his home in an eclectic, strange way, creating both an ordinary and extraordinary representation of reality.
"A quite personal film, which bears some resemblance to Gillian Leahy's My Life Without Steve. The Green Door, however, has a simple eloquence and an authenticity the bigger film lacks." - Anne-Marie Crawford, Super Eight magazine, Dec 1986.
Physical World (1986, 10 mins)
A man and a woman prepare to go to work in the morning. A rigorous, formal narrative work, Mousoulis at his most “Bressonian”. "Physical World is dry, austere, methodical. However, it is a film which draws the viewer's attention away from the surface towards a deeper meaning. We cannot accept that Life, as represented in the first three quarters of the film, is solely composed of the dull, everyday physical activities that we are watching - there must be something more. Through implication the answer is conveyed - yes there is more. There is love. Love alone is the fuel that drives our tired bodies on." - Mark La Rosa, Super-8 Yearbook, Feb 1987.
Knowing Me, Knowing You (1988, 6 mins)
An essay film about the failure of post-modernism. Mousoulis’ first attempt at an “essay” film, in the mode of Marker and Godard.
"I admire Mousoulis' narrative fiction but it is his essay films which are the most interesting for me. Knowing Me, Knowing You is so contained within its rhetoric, those of us in the audience can only wonder what he's getting at ... I hope Mousoulis continues with this series of films, possibly the most philosophically contained and interesting of its kind in Super-8." - Andrew Frost, Filmnews, Feb 1989.
Melbourne '89 (1989, 13 mins)
Various tableaux of Melbourne in 1989, as experienced by the filmmaker. An eclectic film, impossible to predict as you are watching it.
"It is a film of shots/views. Views of Melbourne and portraits of friends. There is also a section of Bill and his band. The ten second portraits of Mark Freeman, Sarah Johnson, Chris Windmill, Heinz Boeck and others looked good. The last shot of George (Renaissance Man) Random in drizzly Punt Road was SENSATIONAL!!!" - Nick Ostrovskis, Super Eight magazine, Oct 1989.
Faith (1987, 27 mins)
A period in the life of a young Australian couple. Mousoulis’ most ambitious narrative short film on Super 8, close to half an hour long.
"With gentle direction, Bill does not impose a story upon the viewer. Faith lets its story grow from its spaces, revealing how the cinema and its meanings can be very hard to pinpoint. Bill lets meaning grow out of silence; significance grow out of the fact that he has faith, as much as the viewer slowly begins to realise, that the characters do not have to be spoken for. Their richness slowly rises to the surface." - Darron Davies, Filmviews, Sep 1987.
- Voted Best Super 8 Film of 1987 in Super-8 Yearbook 1988 (making 12 Top Ten lists)