Bill Mousoulis: A Greek Australian filmmaker with integrity

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By Kathy Karageorgiou.

Films or movies serve as entertainment, as escapism and as art – hopefully encompassing all of these aspects. Films as art can get tricky. What is an ‘art’ film, which is more often than not an independent (indie) film?

These are among the many themes clarified in my interview with the independent film maker of Greek-Australian origin, Mr Bill Mousoulis. Now 59 years of age, Bill has been making movies since he was 19.

From short films on his hand-held film camera, to feature films, to films in Australia and even films in Greece, Bill Mousoulis’ filmography incorporates over 100 diverse movies. With mainly non professional actors, he has written, directed, edited, funded and self promoted almost all of his films.

One of his feature films, ‘A Nocturne’ (2007), for which he won the Best Film award at the Melbourne Underground film festival – led him to be invited to European film festivals for screenings. This included Athens in 2008.

I asked him why as a Greek Australian he hadn’t considered visiting Greece before 2008 (when he was 45 years of age)? He tells me that he was so preoccupied with his filmmaking passion in Australia, that he just didn’t have the time.

“Although I was contacted by the Athens Film Festival regarding my three (Australian) feature film ‘My Blessings’ in 1997 to go there. But, being an independent filmmaker, I didn’t have enough money to be able to make a second copy of the film (pre advanced technology) and send it to them,” he laughs.

A scene from ‘My Blessings’

I ask Bill, how could a budding filmmaker make a film now, on hardly any money?

“Well nowadays, you can make them on your phone, because film has become so expensive, and phone cameras are good. Just film around your reality. For example, my first films were shorts, where my cousins were the actors!” he says.

He also advises: “Unfortunately many think more about awards and their profile, but start first with the joy of making art, and when you’ve made something you like – enter it in film festivals, but also stream your film online!”

“Everyone tends to think primarily in money terms more these days. They’re not as independent, due to social structures; a deeply entrenched capitalism. For example in the 80’s there were film co-ops where people worked together for the love of the art predominantly. Now it’s changed and is mainly big money oriented to mainstream films, where artistic integrity usually suffers in the process.”

After having watched quite a few of Bill Mousoulis’ films, I am in awe of his creativity and artistry, but also of a professional path whereby he seems to innately stay true to himself and to his humanistic values. I ask him which films inspired him as a child, and to my surprise he tells me:

“I was never really into movies until I was 19. My mum would take me as a kid to see Disney movies on school holidays at the pictures, and I enjoyed that. I also later appreciated Spielberg and Hitchcock movies for example, in their staging and editing, but it was at 19 that I discovered European Cinema, and then I decided I was going to be a film-maker,” he says.

Bill goes on to mention Rossellini and Godard and the French New Wave of films as really inspiring him as a true art form – in their creativity and social realism.

“Compared to mainstream films, I was in awe of their deep humanism and more complex artistry in regards to life’s injustices. I also found this sentiment in Greece, more so than Australia and so I spent quite a bit of time there, interspersed between 2008-2017,” he explains.

The main character in ‘Wild and Precious’

He made two feature films in Greece: ‘Wild and Precious’ (2012) – about an expat filmmaker in Greece, who had to often leave his wife and child behind to follow his creative passion, including working as a
documentary of the Greek economic crisis for an Australian journalist in Athens. The film has a semi-documentary as well as a dramatic style, testament to Bill Mousoulis’ eclectic, individual approach which varies in each film.

“Actors Jennifer Levy and Alessandro Figurelli with Bill Mousoulis, shooting Wild and Precious”.

His other Greek feature film, ‘Songs of Revolution’ (2017) – with English subtitles, shows a sub culture of musicians who are politicised due to the socioeconomic context of their lives in modern Greece, and use their music as an artistic outlet. Bill tells me that he met most of the film’s participants in cafes in central Athens and was impressed by their talent and radical, philosophical voices.

He also made a shorter version of the same film – ‘Songs of the Underground’ which is condensed but just as moving and entertaining.

Musicians Antouan Parinis and Dimitris Poulikakos in ‘Songs of Revolution’

Bill is now working on his film in Australia, titled ‘My Darling in Stirling,’ which he tells me is a musical, and that the ‘Stirling’ part is related to the name of a place in Australia in the Adelaide Hills. “It should be out mid next year” he says.

As to Greece beckoning: “I plan on going next year with my wife, but I don’t have any plans for making another film there.”

In closing, I ask Bill what he hopes to convey to the audiences of his films, within his own passion for film-making as a creative outlet.

“I want to convey an appreciation and wonder of life and its mystery and complexity. I want to show that people can own their own lives and be fulfilled, and be fair and connected to others. I’ve always been a realist and thus express and capture life; this helps people have a connection. I want to provide a little sense of something real and valuable. To have done some good in the world,” he concludes.

Bill Mousoulis: An admirably talented artist, and an admirable Greek-Australian and human being with integrity.

You can find out more about Bill Mousoulis and his films, as well as watch them through his website www.innersense.com.au including watching each of his films on Vimeo for free.

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