Overflowing moviejuice

by Bill Mousoulis

"OUTSIDE" film screening
March 18, 2023, Adelaide
organised by: moviejuice

(photo: Jess Tims)


On a mild night on March 18, 2023, in a suburban back yard in Adelaide, something magical happened: the moribund Adelaide independent film scene was enlivened by a night of daring local films, with bands and a party following afterwards. This was the brainchild and invite-only debut of a group of young cinephiles/filmmakers/programmers calling themselves "moviejuice". This group is composed of Louis Campbell, Shea Gallagher and Daniel Tune, and they have been wanting for months now to start something up, to put some films on, and create a scene.

What can I say? This gathering of 50 or so punters was a total success. The ad hoc set up (makeshift screen, ground rugs and cushions) belies the fact that this was a very well organised event. Importantly, the films were breathtakingly good and the receptive audience was made up of smart young women and men who are the future of this city and this country. Mercury Cinema, take note! These youngsters deserve your support, for you to put on future moviejuice screenings, and to get this younger audience in, to get a vibe back into the Adelaide film scene. And, we are talking about an alternative, savvy demographic here, not any institution-created or government-mandated filmmakers and audience.

moviejuice organisers, from left: Shea Gallagher, Daniel Tune, Louis Campbell   (photo: Jess Tims)

The organisers, the filmmakers and the audience on display at this event are the only ones who will save the Adelaide scene. In his article on the Mercury Cinema, "Can The Mercury Transform Itself?", Mike Retter (a veteran of the Adelaide indie film scene) calls for younger people to be at the forefront of the Adelaide film scene, even if they can't necessarily be employed as such by organisations like the Mercury: "With limited funds, people volunteering their time should see their role as an opportunity to achieve something historic (achievement builds a career) and thus the more younger people with energy the better."

The Mercury, in its current re-configuring, MUST inject any energy and desire found in town into its operations and programming, if it is to regenerate itself. Why not support young programmers like moviejuice alongside its regular programs like the Cinematheque or Silverscreen? It will bring a huge new audience into its sphere (and coffers).


Max Hammerstein (r) introducing his film, with actor Luka Kilgariff-Johnson (l). (photo: Jess Tims)

"OUTSIDE" was a success because it treated its filmmakers and audience with respect. And not because it was a party-setting at someone's home. It was because the organisers created a personal and friendly atmosphere. All the filmmakers, if they were present, and most were, gave introductions to their films, and there was great feedback and discussion afterwards. A big congrats to the moviejuice team!



Nine short films were shown in total, some brand new and awaiting their first public unveiling, some from a few years back, and all of them were by Adelaide filmmakers (except for Jutta Pryor). This was quite possibly the best collection of short films I have ever seen, and that's saying something, after 40 years of watching these kind of programs.
For the record:

EP: A BRIGHTER SUMMER DAY (Allison Chhorn, 2021, 23 mins)
PACO (Tim Carlier, 2016, 10 mins)
SMASH THE FASCISTS: OUST! (Bill Mousoulis, 2017, 17 mins)
BIRD SHIT GIRL/DREAMING (Angus Regan, 2022, 11 mins)
PERMISSION TO LAND (Jutta Pryor & Martin Gerigk, 2022, 3 mins)
THEREFORE, MORT (Juniper Dew, 2023, 6 mins)
ANTARCTICA STARTS HERE - PT. 1 (Gabe Bath, 2023, 11 mins)
BECOME HALFLING (Emma Northey, 2022, 4 mins)
CROSSWAYS (Max Hammerstein, 2023, 25 mins)



SURREALITY: There were two really wacky films in the program, and I say "bring on more wack!" Anything absurd or surreal is welcome in Australian cinema, which must be the most boring cinema in the world, with its middlebrow naturalism and second-rate genre films. PACO by Tim Carlier, a 10-minute student film made at Flinders Uni in 2016 (and thus a precursor to the director's feature-length film with the same name which had its World Premiere in Rotterdam this year), is an intriguing piece, seemingly about a sound recordist on a film shoot. In the first half, Paco, our sound recordist hero, follows an eccentric man up a hill as the man reads a letter he has composed to Peter Dutton, and it's a highly inventive sound poem (what better way to treat surreal politicians like Dutton?). Paco seems to lose interest in this task and then wanders through some gardens, recording various sounds, as chant music plays mysteriously on the soundtrack. The humour is off-beat, the mood is slyly spiritual, and there seems to be a commentary in it about how cinema intervenes in reality. I look forward to the feature version, which I haven't seen yet. ANTARCTICA STARTS HERE - PT. 1 by Gabe Bath is the kind of film indie filmmakers made in the 1980s, working on Super 8, when doll films and post-modern philosophy were all the rage. And indeed Bath makes his film look like a scratchy Super 8, as he gives us a pastiche parody of Fidel Castro and a couple of his comrades stranded in 1956, guarding against forces out to get them and dreaming of The Revolution. Of course, it's shot here, in Australia, with false beards and dodgy props and a riotous series of gags, replete with bad sound and shaky camera work. But lest I make it sound like it's a mess, it's actually very inventive visually (the effects are intentional) and very funny comedically, mining an under-utilised mode of absurd cosplay (most humour these days in films or TV shows seems to be just verbal, relying on wit and knowingness). Look out for this little gem this year sometime, as part of a larger project called Ships That Bear.



PLAYFULNESS: The diptych BIRD SHIT GIRL & DREAMING by Angus Regan are fun, playful films, especially the first one, BIRD SHIT GIRL, where we encounter a young woman in a park, being swooped and pooped by a bird. Regan swims in the youth culture of our times vaping, music-making, video-pranking, Big Bird costumes but with panache and humour. And there is a feminist bent to it all too: yes girls, you don't need the sleazy twerp of a guy who is the hit of Tik Tok. The second film, DREAMING, is a pleasant music video, featuring an animation of white line drawings on a black background. Regan has a light touch with both films, exhibiting a pleasing sense of exploration and playfulness in his work.



NIGHTMARE: The film THEREFORE, MORT by Juniper Dew is not for the faint-hearted. Accompanied by eerie music and backward singing voices, we see an ordinary suburban house transformed over the years, from a pleasant house with family portraits on the walls, to a location of horror. The film revolves around the one space in particular, the main corridor, as the wild montage comes back to it time and again, but with changes. Child abuse, drug addiction, and, finally, suicide litter the halls and rooms of this haunted house. An impressive collage film.



ATMOSPHERE: The most impressive film of the night was CROSSWAYS by Max Hammerstein. Academy-ratioed and in a subtly sepia-tinged B&W, it is a mood piece par excellence. Two mysterious characters wander through bleak landscapes, a male and a female, with the male chancing upon a hooded, murdered friend of his. The man and woman then engage in a cat-and-mouse game, and a victor emerges. 25 minutes and not a single word of dialogue (and there is indeed diegetic sound), as the film hypnotically (one shot every five seconds or so in a clear pattern) weaves around these figures in the dead landscapes, accompanied by a masterful multi-layered soundtrack. Dare I say there's quite a Lynchian atmosphere to proceedings? Echoes of films like Eraserhead, The Elephant Man and Lost Highway abound. Hammerstein is a talent to watch.


STAY TUNED for more moviejuice events as the year unfolds.
Here is the Moviejuice Facebook page, and you can also contact them through this email here: moviejuicefestival@gmail.com


Bill Mousoulis is a Greek-Australian independent filmmaker since 1982, and a programmer and critic. He is the editor of the Pure Shit: Australian Cinema website.

Published March 27, 2023. © Bill Mousoulis 2023.