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a 2012, 87 mins
a film by Bill Mousoulis  


When art reflects the truth of life: Bill Mousoulis' Wild and Precious
by Anna Hatzifraim, Alitheia, Cyprus, September 20, 2012.


An Italian filmmaker finds himself in Greece , in the middle of the sociopolitical crisis ...

Exorcising the demons of our era, an era where cultural creation no longer makes its presence felt, the bold visions of directors such as the Greek-Australian Bill Mousoulis come to state very clearly that modern man can be uncompromising, with ideals and dreams of a better tomorrow.  The film “Wild and Precious” hits like a "punch" to the status quo of today's cinema showing an unconventional and also exciting urban "fairy tale" about the current socio-political crisis that is happening in Greece. An important figure in the contemporary cinematic landscape internationally, Bill Mousoulis travels to Greece and Italy and films with a fresh but critical eye, capturing the tension, turmoil, conflict, but also the hope of our situation.

I spoke with the director.

Tell us about your career as a director … How did it launch off?

It happened for me when I was 18.  I didn't know what to do with my life, so I intentionally did nothing for 12 months, to work it out.  I saw many films on TV, and enjoyed them.  Then one night in bed an image came to me, and I knew it had to be the closing shot of a film, and I knew I had to make that film.  That image was an angel perhaps.  The Cinema Angel coming to me.

Tell us about your favorite works …

My favourite works?  This is like asking a mother which are her favourite children!  I have made 100 films, all done with love, or interest.  Some are special though.  Doubt (1982) - my first little short film, the thrill of breaking my virginity.  Between Us (1989) - my first big funded film, which won awards.  Open City (1993) - my first feature, it was exciting to do a story over 80 minutes.  And Wild and Precious (2012) is special too - my first feature made in Europe .

What is the impact of the audience on your projects?

My films always attract a mixed response from audiences, as what I do is a little alternative, and even experimental at times.  My cinema is far from commercial cinema.  I myself understand this, so I don't feel too bad when audiences don't respond well.  Of course, I wish that they would respond better, but this doesn't stop me from making the films I do.

Tell us about the conditions of making art cinema abroad, the distinct differences with Greece ...

In Australia , making art cinema is more difficult.  There is the mainstream and then the underground, and nothing in between.  In Greece , many feature films are like art films, there is more of an appreciation of art or alternative films.  Australia is now a rich country.  But it is stale, it is lifeless.  In Greece , features are made for 200,000 euro, or less.  That would be forbidden in Australia .  And Greek films are far more interesting than Australian ones.

Do you believe in the co-existence of art and lived experience or can one exist without the other?

Art and Life always go together - even for those artists who divorce themselves from life, from current themes, from normal philosophies.  For me, I enjoy and practice a realism.  Meaning I like to capture the life I see around me, to throw it up for questioning, or to cherish it, aesthetically, and also philosophically.

How real for you is your work?

My films always come from within me, from a feeling I have, a thought I have ... certain things have obsessed me, like love, like murder ... so they come from deep within my lived experience, they mean something for me.  I also respond to my surroundings, I observe faces a lot, I observe moods, and it means a lot to capture these things on the screen.

Are films defined by laws or do they work without them?

Everything is symbiotic.  Rules exist, always, even from another art form (which is what cinema had to work with when it began, 120 years ago).  But the most beautiful cinema is that which has its own rules.  Look at Bresson, the purity he achieved.  Or Godard, turning cinema on its head.  In a way, they achieved their greatness by knowing the rules, and then breaking them.

How do you select the actors that grace your projects and which ones stand out for you?

Like most filmmakers, I go for "presence".  But my definition of presence does not mean Brad Pitt or Angelina Jolie.  I like actors with raw faces, with mysterious faces, with unique ways of walking.  Being a realist, I want to capture reality, real people, so I don't like actors who "act", or who look pretty.  Can I name any of my actors who stand out ?  No, I can't.  They are all equal in my eyes.

What are your film influences and who do you consider your teachers?

For me, European art cinema is what has influenced me.  There was a brief period when I was a young man where I enjoyed American cinema, but from the age of 20 or so, I went to the level of art cinema and that is where I remain.  Italian neo-realism and the French nouvelle vague are my touchstones.  Rossellini, Pasolini, Antonioni, Bresson, Godard, Garrel.

You are another example of a Greek who grew up and excelled abroad. Do you think that would still be the same if lived all your life in Greece ?

This is an impossible question to answer of course.  In Australia one feels free, one has money, one can pursue an artistic career easily.  But Australia doesn't appreciate art cinema.  If I was born in Greece and made films in Greece, it would have been harder to get the career going, but I believe I would have made better films, and been appreciated more.

What was the stimulus for your “Wild And Precious” which will be screened at the 7th International Festival of Cyprus ... It observes the fate of Greece , therefore I assume that your concern as Greek drove you in this direction?

Again, it's an impossible situation.  I am Australian, but I am also Greek.  I am both, and neither.  I started half-living in Greece a few years ago, because I was drawn to it because of my heritage, for sure, and also because of my love of European cinema.  I will always be an outsider in Greece - the Crisis doesn't affect me, I can go to Australia any time I like.  But I still have concern for Greece , for my friends and relatives there, and I believe in Greek cinema, in its raw, passionate quality that I see.

What are your plans for the future?

I want to make another feature in Greece .  "Wild and Precious" is the film of an outsider, both myself and the characters are from outside of Greece and they are looking inside it, commenting on it, trying to help it.  With the next feature, I want to make it like an "insider" - I want to explore a Greek story, and have Greek actors only.  Always I am driven by the need to do something different, and something genuine.