Steven Ball
Marie Craven
Solrun Hoaas
Daryl Dellora

Melbourne independent filmmakers

Leo Berkeley
Giorgio Mangiamele
Michael Buckley
Moira Joseph

Giorgio Mangiamele - Melbourne's first "underground" filmmaker, circa mid 1950s.

Melbourne independent filmmakers - a retrospective

50 years of underground filmmaking in Melbourne

curated by Bill Mousoulis

5th Melbourne Underground Film Festival, George Cinemas, St.Kilda, July 8 - 18, 2004

Forget yr Harvie Krumpets and Cannes awards, yr silly comedies and romantic comedies, and yr one-joke short films, the real action in the Melbourne filmmaking scene over the years has been with a bevy of iconoclastic, visionary filmmakers working away passionately, with hardly any money, and yet producing a stack of work that has imagination and integrity, and will undoubtedly stand the test of time.

From the solitary, other-worldly (literally, having arrived on ship with other migrants) Giorgio Mangiamele in the '50s, Melbourne has produced many underground filmmakers that only occasionally get the recognition they deserve.

This retrospective drew together a major slab of that work, with full-session profiles of John Cumming, Michael Lee and Chris Windmill, and two other sessions compiling films from a variety of people.

Program 1: Saturday, July 10, 5:00 pm - '50s to '80s
Program 2: Sunday, July 11, 7:00 pm - Michael Lee
Program 3: Tuesday, July 13, 9:00 pm -
John Cumming
Program 4: Thursday, July 15, 7:00 pm -
'90s to '00s
Program 5: Friday, July 16, 7:00 pm -
Chris Windmill

Read a review of the event:
"The Mousoulis vision of independence", by Jake Wilson, RealTime OnScreen #63 Oct/Nov, 2004.

Program 1: Saturday, July 10, 5:00 pm, George Cinemas.

'50s to '80s

The Brothers (1958, 20 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod: Giorgio Mangiamele; Wr: Robert Clarke and Ian Howard; Music: Cid Ellwood.
Featuring: Ettore Siracusa, Victor Pandorf, Stewart McIntyre, Harry Graham.

A family study: the father seeks his happiness in alcohol, and does not wish to support the eldest son who needs some money to get married. The younger brother will do anything to help his older brother.

Forgotten Loneliness
(1965, 9 mins, 16mm)
Dir: Chris Lfvn.
Featuring: Ken Lui, Howard Wong.

A young Chinese student living in Chinatown, Melbourne wanders aimlessly through the city streets observing the people, traffic and shops. Seeing a group of young companions having fun together, he appears out of place and alone.

Short Story
(1970, 8 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Ettore Siracusa; DOP: Tony Paterson.
Featuring: Peter Cummins.

A night shift worker, at home, then at work and then in a train, where he enacts an imaginary space of his own making. Noteworthy for the filmmaker's interest in spatial narratives and urban settings, and for actor Peter Cummins' first film role.

In Search of the Japanese (1980, 16 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Solrun Hoaas; Sound and Lighting: Ric Dobson, Kathie Armstrong, Nigel Buesst, Jude Hewitson.
Featuring: Howard Stanley, Roger Pulvers.

To export stuffed budgies to Japan, an Australian businessman tries to understand the Japanese mind. A satire on Western images of 'the Japanese' and the economic agenda that underpins cultural relations.

Dance of Death
(1983, 8 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Dennis Tupicoff.

Satire linking TV game shows and violence. Best non-feature animation 1983 AFI Awards.

Light Play (1984, 7 mins, 16mm)

Dir/Prod/Wr: Dirk de Bruyn; Music: Michael Luck.

An abstract play of light, colour, geometric shapes and patterns synchronised with synthesised music.

Someone Looks at Something (1986, 18 mins, video)
Dir/Prod: Philip Tyndall; Wr: Philip Tyndall and Peter Tyndall; DOP: Dennis K. Smith; Sound: Greg Gurr; Music: Original Live Recordings (1980) by Mick Earls, Arne Hanna, Peter Tyndall and Steve Burke.
Featuring: Peter Tyndall.

A bright, pacy reflexive documentary about the approach and works of internationally renowned Australian artist, Peter Tyndall. (Winner Best Documentary, 1987 Australian Video Festival.)

Glorious Day (1987, 12 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Bill Mousoulis; DOP: Mark C. Zenner; Sound: Mark La Rosa.
Featuring: Lloyd Fleming, Monica Mousoulis.

A film about everyday life; the objects that surround people, and the people themselves. Suggesting that life passes through, beside and beyond the universe as a whole.

Program 2: Sunday, July 11, 7:00 pm, George Cinemas.

Michael Lee

Michael Lee came to Melbourne in 1968 to study at Swinburne College, then the only film-making school in Australia. He became involved in the blossoming avant-garde film scene in Melbourne. He was a member of the founding board of the Melbourne Filmmakers Co-operative and later served on the board of the Modern Image Makers Association. He has produced over a dozen 16mm films.

The Mystical Rose (1976, 65 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Michael Lee

The film combines several animation techniques with live action and found footage. It is based on the structure of the Catholic mass and deals with themes of sexual repression, guilt and apostasy.

A Contemplation of the Cross (1989, 27 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Michael Lee; Music: Ollie Olsen, John Murphy, Choir of St Francis.
Featuring: Peter Adams, Catherine Lucas, Jack Liistro.

This film also uses a variety of techniques. The filmmaker's intention was to produce a cinematic "icon", which is an image designed to stimulate meditation upon a sacred mystery - in this case the crucifixion of Jesus.

"The Mystical Rose was my first major effort at filmmaking and grew out of the confusion I experienced in my early 20s when the values of my strict Catholic upbringing in Brisbane were challenged by the bohemian atmosphere I found myself in when I came down to Melbourne. A Contemplation of the Cross, made a dozen years later, is an expression of my mature religious faith." - Michael Lee.

Q & A followed screening.

Program 3: Tuesday, July 13, 9:00 pm, George Cinemas.

John Cumming

John Cumming is a Melbourne based independent filmmaker. His work has screened internationally and is held by the National Library of Australia. John was an active member of the Independent Film Action Committee in the early 1980s. Since 1985 he has taught film and video at institutions including the UTS, La Trobe, and the VCA. He now lectures at both the University of Melbourne and at Deakin in Melbourne. John's film work is marked by a strong interest in form, often resulting in films that are interesting hybrids of various elements. As a director, his hand is both (to quote Godard) "soft and hard", as he effortlessly moves from narrative to essay to documentary, from analysis to poetry to emotion.

Obsession (1985, 24 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: John Cumming; Music: Eric Gradman.
Featuring: John Cumming, Anna Kannava (voice).

A high performance film about the mechanics of desire and socialisation, stasis and motion. An insistent, speeded-up montage of car bodies and disassembled parts.

Recognition (1986, 21 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: John Cumming; Art Directors: John Elliot and cast; Music: David Hykes and the Harmonic Choir.
Featuring: John F. Howard with Catriona Anderson, Steve Bingham, Kate Dalling, Mathew Flinn, Jane Francis, Mary Gallic, Aija Grauze, Bill Haskett, Stephen Hope, Caroline Holmstrom, Claire Madsen, Hisao Nakamura, Helen Simondson, Graeme Stephen and John Thompson.

A displaced hero and a wandering group of people confront oblivion and are transformed by the landscapes they pass through.

Sabotage (1987, 16 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: John Cumming; DOP: Calum Hogg; Sound: Sue Goldman; Editor: Jane Madsen.
Featuring: Jane Madsen, Lee Smith, David Cox, Andrew Taylor, Siobhan Tuke.

What is Sabotage: dogma, action, inaction, deception, hypocrisy, incompetence, detachment, subversion?

John also screened and discussed excerpts from some of his other works.

Program 4: Thursday, July 15, 7:00 pm, George Cinemas.

'90s to '00s

Colors (1991, 4 mins, Super-8/35mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Nick Ostrovskis.

A short kinetic film where bright colors zoom in at the audience. Drawings, patterns, slides and negatives are animated.

Pale Black
(1992, 13 mins, Super-8/16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Marie Craven; Sound/Eds: Marie Craven, Chris Windmill.
Featuring: Louise Fox (voice-over).

B&W, Super 8, diary footage blown up. Twenty six images. Six or seven dreams told as if they are happening now. Portrait of a phantom self.

Black Sheep Gather No Moss (1997, 12 mins, 16mm)

Dir/Prod/Wr: Nigel Buesst; Narration: Gabby Brennan.

Three generations of a family history. A vision of Melbourne from long ago, yet reflecting our lives today. Part dream, part soap opera.

Don't Blink (1998, 18 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Wr: George Goularas; Prod: Maria Simonetto; DOP: Con Filippidis; Music: Jo Goodman.
Featuring: Victor Bizzotto, Maria Simonetto, Graham Barker.

A dissociative portrait of schizophrenia. An absurdist experimental narrative exploring neurological disorders, suicide and grief. A short film about silence, solitude and the intermittent darkness.

Udds Armageddon (2001, 12 mins, video)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Grant Meredith; Sound/Music: Leigh Achterbosch.
Featuring: Grant Meredith, Paul Goossens, Leigh Achterbosch, Rod Lofts.

The great war of freedom against the terrifying genetically-altered rubber glove Udds. A tribute to the great post-nuclear sci-fis of the '50s and '60s.

Dirty Work (2003, 30 mins, video)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Jason Turley; DOP: Richard Greenhalgh; Music: Colin Trott.
Featuring: Adam Scott, Chris Bidlo, Louise Steele, Melanie Stevens, Suzanne Barr.

A low key naturalistic drama which revolves around Dale, a pretty aimless 16 year old. His mother Leanne pressures him into a part time job with Barry, a local man who needs some gardening done.

Lypi (2004, 4 mins, video)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Jim Stamatakos; DOP: George Kastoun; Music: Juggernautxx; Lyrics: Pamela Karitinos.
Featuring: Dino Bernardone, Carl Coulson.

Lypi, is about stumbling, feeling stolen, being broken and trying to move on.

Program 5: Friday, July 16, 7:00 pm, George Cinemas.

Chris Windmill

Chris Windmill studied film at three local institutions: Rusden College, Swinburne, and the Melbourne Super 8 Film Group, the latter being the most productive learning environment. He thanks their eminent professors. He has made over 20 films, some of which have received that great and transient prize: the audience seemed to like them. Adrian Martin has described Chris' films as: " ... Quietly mad, his films begin from the charming, irritating minutiae of everyday experience - shopping, cleaning shoes, hanging out the washing, going for a picnic in the park - and enlarge them into magnificent, terrifying obsessions ... Windmill is a surprising, original mix of primitivism and sophistication ... he offers us a homegrown surrealist revolution."

Queen's Birthday (1980, 5 mins, 16mm/video, B&W)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Chris Windmill; DOP: Roger Plant; Music: Ian Eccles-Smith, Chris Windmill and Elizabethans.
Featuring: Peter Windmill.

Queen Elizabeth (2) demeans one of her working-class subjects on her birthday.

Beards of Evil (1984, 10 mins, 16mm/video)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Chris Windmill; DOP: Mandy Walker; Music: Ian Eccles-Smith.
Featuring: Daryl Pellizer, John Flaus, Anthony Morgan (also sound recordist!), Helen Kennedy, Janet Shaw, Barry Foldner, Keely Macarow.

A naive, young gardener, the Candide of the horticultural world, is oppressed by evil, bearded men. He is driven towards ultimate desolation, while being burdened by a vast aggregation of suitcases.

Mystery Love (1985, 5 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Chris Windmill; Music: Chris Windmill, Michael Mordaunt.
Featuring: H.L.Harper, Michael Mordaunt.

A Woman falls in love with the guy next door, The Pope. A Big Mistake.

The New Shoes (1990, 8 mins, 16mm/video)
Dir/Prod/Wr/Music: Chris Windmill.
Featuring: Chris Windmill, Ian Eccles-Smith, Mark Freeman.

Pictures of lovely, shiny shoes that sometimes talk, and also pics of ugly post-surgical scars.

The Buffs (1994, 7 mins, video)
Dir/Wr: Chris Windmill; Prod: Sarah Zadeh; DOP: Peter Falk; Music: Robin Casinader.
Featuring: Noel Dunstan, Noel's nephew Don John, Dave Mackay, Alvin Dyson, Stan Garland, Ray Olsen and Lenny Farey.

Members of the Royal Antediluvian Order of Buffaloes demonstrate their rituals, discuss their history, and fears of imminent extinction, in a modern world where men's lodges are an anachronism.

The Birds do a Magnificent Tune (1996, 28 mins, 16mm)
Dir/Wr: Chris Windmill; Prod: Sarah Zadeh; DOP: Peter Falk; Music: Robin Casinader.
Featuring: Andrew Blackman, Angela Twigg, Malcolm Robertson, Alexis Anthopoulos, Irini Pappas.

A working couple, Bernard and Pinry, only see one another on weekends, when they engage in mutual worship through devotional rituals involving tidying their home.

A Woman is Doing the Dishes (1999, 15 mins, 16mm, B&W)
Dir/Prod/Wr: Chris Windmill; Music: Robin Casinader.
Featuring: Kath McKenzie, Nicola Harrison.

Adele is washing dishes when she receives an unexpected visit.

Satan's Machine (2000, 5 mins, 16mm/video, B&W)
Dir/Prod: Chris Windmill; Wr: Chris Windmill, Jennifer Ross.
Featuring: Stephen Carleton, Tiffany Carter.

A man with a terrible cold has run out of handkerchiefs. They remain wet on the clothesline. His neighbour wants to use the clothesline. She has terrible taste in music, an evil temperament, and a 1984 Nissan Pulsar hatchback.

Q & A followed screening.

Back to Melbourne independent filmmakers index page



Melbourne independent filmmakers is compiled by Bill Mousoulis