Unknown Pleasures:
Australian independent cinema


A series of regular screenings featuring the
best of Australian independent cinema,
both classic and contemporary,
with discussions with the filmmakers.

Curators/presenters: Chris Luscri, Bill Mousoulis
Guest programmers: Dirk de Bruyn, Digby Houghton
Assistant/videographer: Colin Hodson


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Thank you to our supporters

Unknown Pleasures is self-funded by Chris Luscri and Bill Mousoulis. It receives no government funding and it has no sponsors.
We ran a donation drive during Feb-Apr 2024 and we reached and surpassed our target to help us operate for 2024-2025.
We thank the following people who contributed to this (and there was also a number of anonymous people):

Adrian Danks, Adrian Ortega, Andrew Dunda, Andrew Vial, Angelo Salamanca, Anna Dzenis, Anne Tsoulis, Audrey Lam,
Baris Ulusoy, Ben Speth, Catriona Jackson, Chrstine Tammer, Christos Tsiolkas, Daniel Schultheis, David Donaldson,
David Heslin, Deane Williams, Dennis Tupicoff, Donna McRae, Emily Quattrocchi, Fiona Cochrane, Fiona Villella, Geoffrey Gardner,
George Kapaklis, Gregory Pakis, Heinz Boeck, Irene Proebsting & Barry Brown, Ivan Gaal, Ivan Malekin, John Cruthers,
John Cumming, John Hughes, Karen Pearlman, Kelly Hucker, Kevin Cassidy, Leo Berkeley, Lesley Chow, Majenta Green, Margot Nash,
Martha Ansara, Megan Ng, Natalie Vella, Nigel Buesst, Patrick O'Brien, Peter Tammer, Phil O'Brien, Philippa Hawker,
Sarah Zadeh, Sebastian Vaccaris, Sebastiano Pupillo, Simon Strong, Siobhan Jackson, Tom Kazas, Tony Messenger.




Upcoming screenings for 2024


INFO FOR SCREENINGS:

Our main venue is the Thornbury Picture House,
at 802 High St, Thornbury.
Tickets are at regular house prices,
and must be booked online at the venue's website.
Check particular info for each session down the page.

Facebook Unknown Pleasures page 





Next screening - in September, TBA






Past 2024 screenings







Tuesday, Feb 13, 8:20 pm
Thornbury Picture House, house prices. Tickets here.

Nick Ostrovskis Flashback
Guest programmed by Dirk de Bruyn
Retrospective screening (1982 - 2001, 93 mins)
Intro and Q&A with Dirk de Bruyn & Nick Ostrovskis

Nick Ostrovskis is an experimental filmmaker who was prolific in the 1980s and 1990s with Super 8 mainly, but also 16mm, animating single image rushes and timelapse, documenting family life and the western suburbs landscape in a unique style. He has produced a series of visually stunning kaleidoscopes of rushing images, colours, photographs and gestural movements, all with great technical virtuosity. We present 11 of his films, newly Restored to HD digital. (Dirk de Bruyn)


Content/Trigger warning: This program includes single frame animation that can induce a strobe-like effect.


 
  Nick Ostrovskis

Nick Ostrovskis Flashback
Guest programmed by Dirk de Bruyn

Restored films from Super 8 originals, transfers by MemoryLab
as part of “The Shoring Project” initiated by
Jim Bridges and Dirk de Bruyn

 

Films in screening order:

 
Backyard
(Super 8, 20 mins, 1982, Silent)

Family Album (Super 8, 7 mins, 1983, Silent)

Brain Surge (16mm, 16:30 mins, 1992, Music by Chris Knowles)

Flower Animation
(Super 8, 4:30 mins, 1988, Silent)


Man in A Window (Super 8, 8:30 mins, 1989, Silent)

Monteith Street (Super 8, 4 mins, 1983, Silent)

Slide Images (Super 8, 6 mins, 1983, Silent)

Lens Spasm (16mm, 3 mins, 1995, Music by Chris Knowles)

Spacetrips Somersaults Blue Dogs Blow Flies (Super 8, 3 mins, 2001, Silent)

Westgate Bridge (Super 8, 6:30 mins, 1984, Silent)

City By A River (Super 8, 14 mins, 1986, Silent)


Backyard

BrainSurge
City By A River

Nick Ostrovskis is an experimental filmmaker who has been animating single image rushes and timelapse, documenting family life and the western suburbs landscape in a unique style. He has produced a series of visually stunning kaleidoscopes of rushing images, colours, photographs and gestural movements, all with great technical virtuosity.

His work is documented in the Melbourne Super 8 Film Group from the 1980s on and he “progressed” to making some short 16mm films funded through the Australian Film Commission.


This program transferred a group of still available films in Nick’s shed to digital as part of a project “The Shoring Project” initiated by Jim Bridges and Dirk de Bruyn to retain elements of an invisible Melbourne Film Culture that would otherwise be forever lost.

 

Dirk de Bruyn, guest programmer


Nick Ostrovskis profile page on Melbourne Independent Filmmakers site

 

Dirk de Bruyn and Bill Mousoulis Zoom video interview
by Peter Krausz, Movie Metropolis, WYN-FM, January 26, 2024

 

Dirk de Bruyn radio interview
by Patrick O'Brien, O' Tomorrow, 3RRR-FM, February 6, 2024

 

Dirk de Bruyn and Bill Mousoulis radio interview (from 25 minute mark)
by Melinda O'Connor, On Screen, 3CR, February 10, 2024



City By A River

Family Album
Family Album

“I wish more personal work by animators like Nick Ostrovskis had been screened. Such people see their work as a serious art form instead of the industry work that constantly presents tiresome visual tricks and gimmicks.”
Michael Buckley, MIMA Newsletter, 1989

 

“It's been exciting to see Nick Ostrovskis' silent films which are so daring and yet elegantly put together (using in Super-8 re-photographed slides). The success of these films is partly in the pace of changes and the intrepid use of saturated hues. Because there is no auditory experience, I for one tune into something which is not music but is a kind of meta-music when I see Nick's films...”
Maeve Woods, Melbourne Super 8 Film Group Newsletter No.63, October 1991

 

Brain Surge by Nick Ostrovskis newly blown up to 16mm in San Francisco and now with a soundtrack by Chris Knowles is the best colour Super-8 blow up I've ever seen, colour saturation excellent, but my memory somehow misses those deep greens, blues and impenetrable blacks, or is it my memory that's missing?”
Jim Bridges, Melbourne Super 8 Film Group Newsletter No.89, March 1994

 

“On Lens Spasm: Frenetic, pulsating black-and-white reeling to spectrum-coloured configurations and animated scratched emulsion images.”
Tony Woods, MIFF Catalogue, 1995



Lens Spasm

Man in A Window
Man in A Window

Photos of the screening (full gallery on Facebook)


Video of the Q&A discussion at the end:




Tuesday, March 12, 6:25 pm
Thornbury Picture House, house prices. Tickets here.

Meet the Lowensteins...
Guest programmed by Digby Houghton
Q&A with Richard Lowenstein, moderated by Digby Houghton

We present two of Richard Lowenstein's half-hour short films, works connected to the life and work of his historian/author mother Wendy Lowenstein (1927-2006) — his debut film the docu-drama Evictions (1979, 25 mins), about social conditions in the 1930s in Melbourne, and Don't Be Too Polite Girls (2023, initial version, 25 mins), a biography of Wendy Lowenstein and historian/activist Shirley Andrews, for which Lowenstein is currently seeking funding to expand it to feature length via Documentary Australia. (Digby Houghton)


 
   

Richard Lowenstein is a Melbourne based filmmaker who first started off making music videos for the likes of INXS where he met Michael Hutchence. Hutchence would play a pivotal role in Lowenstein’s iconic 1986 post-punk homage to Richmond squalor Dogs in Space.

 

His debut feature film Strikebound (1983) explored the Wonthaggi miners’ strike and was based on his mother Wendy Lowenstein’s unpublished book Dead Men Don't Dig Coal.

 

Lowenstein has continued to mix the comical with the political in films like He Died with A Felafel in His Hand (2001) concerning a young man enduring a quarter life crisis as he backpacks across the east coast of Australia.

 

More recently, documentaries have concerned famous Australian musicians like Michael Hutchence (Mystify, 2019) and Rowland S. Howard (Autoluminescent, 2011).

 

Currently, Lowenstein is preparing a feature-length version of a film (Don’t Be Too Polite Girls) about his mother Wendy Lowenstein (1927-2006), an important member of the folk movement in Australia and author of oral histories like The Immigrants, and Shirley Andrews (1915-2001), a dance historian and pioneering Indigenous rights activist. We present a half-hour teaser for Don’t Be Too Polite Girls.

 

We will also screen his very first film, the short film Evictions (1979), newly restored to HD digital. Evictions is based on Lowenstein’s mother’s oral history from 1978 Weevils in the Flour. It is a doco-drama set in Melbourne during the Great Depression and looks at the organisation of the unemployed as they combat police enforcement.

 

Digby Houghton, guest programmer

 

Richard Lowenstein and Digby Houghton Zoom video interview
by Peter Krausz, Movie Metropolis, WYN-FM, March 1, 2024

 

Richard Lowenstein radio interview (from 19 minute mark)
by Melinda O'Connor, On Screen, 3CR, March 9, 2024



 

Evictions


 

Don't Be Too Polite Girls

Don't Be Too Polite Girls

 

Crowd-funding campaign for the film is here.

 




Photos of the screening (full gallery on Facebook)


Video of the Q&A discussion at the end:





Tuesday, April 16, 8:30 pm
Thornbury Picture House, house prices. Tickets. SOLD OUT

FLAUSFILM (2009, 99 mins) RESTORED
Directed by Peter Tammer
Q&A with Peter Tammer plus Kit Guyatt (editor) from NSW, moderated by Bill Mousoulis

A special night to celebrate John Flaus' 90th birthday (which will be the following day, April 17), we present FLAUSFILM, an extraordinary collage documentary of John Flaus made primarily between 1987 and 1992, compiling footage from the '60s to early '90s, of Flaus the person, the critic, and the actor. Tammer along with editor Kit Guyatt present a swirling matrix of excerpts from films Flaus has acted in and documentary footage of Flaus the critic and person. (Bill Mousoulis)


 

John Flaus (1934- ) is one of the giants of Australian film culture. For cinephiles and also filmmakers in Australia, he has been an important figure. Fittingly, the major form his film criticism has taken is the spoken word, and not written reviews or essays as such (despite the Leonard Maltin-like tome of words he has scribbled in notebooks, which hopefully will be published one day). Most of us discovered him through 3RRR's Film Buff's Forecast, presented with Paul Harris, in the 1980s. His forte: a combination of anarchist and Socratic yarning, or dialoguing (though many times it was more like inspired monologue). And for filmmakers? For established filmmakers, he lent a manly presence to their films that no-one else quite could, as the manliness also had vulnerability in it. And for younger filmmakers, he would play any role asked of him, in the process mentoring the directors. A glorious tribute to Flaus and his influence was created by the online journal Senses of Cinema in 2014, to mark his 80th birthday. It is essential reading. You can read it here.

 

Peter Tammer's film Flausfilm is an extraordinary documentary of Flaus. Punctuated by a cryptic crossword devised by Flaus being filled in (Flaus was a lover of words, of literature), the film contains excerpts from films Flaus has acted in, films Flaus has loved and spoken about, and then all kinds of documentary footage of Flaus doing various things: on air at 3RRR with Paul Harris, at recording studios making his legendary voice-overs for ads, at home grappling with computers or relaxing with family and friends, at home trying to pack his things to move to his partner Natalie's house in Hampton (an extremely stressful time for both). It's not a conventional documentary of course, it's a vérité recording of Flaus the man, and none of the clips from the films have captions to identify them. Everything is raw here, the "primary source" on display, with no talking head commentary from anyone explaining the films or Flaus the person.

 

In a way, Flausfilm has captured Flaus in his prime, in his 50s, through the mid '80s to the early '90s. To say this film is a valuable document of Flaus the person is an extreme understatement. As a portrait, it's not pandering or hagiographical, it's real and unadorned, a quality Tammer has displayed in many of his other films, with his approach to his documentary subjects. Flausfilm also has razor-like editing by Kit Guyatt (in collaboration with Tammer, who created the film's structure in its first phase of editing in 1991-2), who was instrumental in helping Tammer complete the film from 2006 to 2009, after the initial post-production of it got stalled in the early-mid '90s. The film is clearly structured in sections, with seemingly disparate elements actually grouped together by theme or tone.

 

Seen now, in 2024, on the eve of Flaus' 90th birthday (and his failing health), Flausfilm is an incredibly moving portrait of a unique figure in Australia's film scene for the past 60 years now. If Flaus used to complain that film directors never cast him as himself, i.e. as a tortured intellectual, Flausfilm has now given him that honour, showing him in all his ragged glory.

 

— Bill Mousoulis, programmer.

 

Flausfilm: the contracted title comes about because it is the answer to a cryptic crossword clue – a crossword devised by Flaus himself. This becomes a narrating, structuring device that organises the film, as words like Action, Average and Therapist introduce its sections. The montage, by Tammer and editor Kit Guyatt, then proceeds by Eisensteinian association: it juxtaposes clips from films and advertisements that Flaus has acted in; candid footage (shot by Tammer, mostly between 1987 and 1992) of Flaus doing voice-over jobs or packing up (a painful process!) one home in order to move into another with his partner, Natalie de Maccus ....

Flausfilm
is pure immersion, no guardrail. Via its montage, it churns up reflections on the relation between lifestyle and aesthetic sensibility, between personal values and a cultural mission.

Adrian Martin, "Flausfilm: Something to Be", Pure Shit: Australian Cinema, April 4, 2024.


 

Peter Tammer and Bill Mousoulis Zoom video interview
by Peter Krausz, Movie Metropolis, WYN-FM, April 5, 2024







Photos of the screening (full gallery on Facebook)


Video of the Q&A discussion at the end:



Tuesday, May 14, 8:20 pm
Thornbury Picture House, house prices. Tickets here. SOLD OUT

Love & Fascism in the 21st Century (2018, 74 mins)
Directed by Carmen-Sibha Keiso
Guest programmed by Digby Houghton
Q&A with Carmen-Sibha Keiso, moderated by Digby Houghton.

Brilliant young Arab-Australian poet-artist-filmmaker Carmen-Sibha Keiso's deubt feature film Love & Fascism in the 21st Century is a truly unique work for Australian cinema, mixing the essay-film form with a document of experimental theatre. It is the definitive Duchampian reaction to the ineptitude of progress in the modern world. It’s a sentimental essay-film about longing and love in the vein of Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma – not to be missed. (Digby Houghton)


 

Carmen-Sibha Keiso is an experimental filmmaker, sound artist (DJ), writer and poet hailing from the fringes of inner-city Melbourne. Keiso’s practice aims to critique the banality of modern day living by showing the complexity of humans’ existence in the contemporary world. Keiso has prodded the peripheries of the internet as long as I can remember (since 2009), when she was a notorious Tumblr poster. Her fascination with isolation and the mundanity of life is shown in her solo show Me diations at artist run initiative ‘Meow’ – an art collective that Carmen has filmed extensively since 2018 – featuring a series of photographs from her time in hotel quarantine in 2021. In late 2019 Keiso ventured to New York City where she met the late great experimental composer and filmmaker Phill Niblock and worked as his archivist.

Keiso is interested in collaborative practices like her expanded literary workshop Read the Room, in which participants spend a short period of time workshopping their writing together before presenting their work to the public. During her honours year at the Victorian College of the Arts, Keiso was gripped with a strong urge to make a feature film titled Love & Fascism in the 21st Century. It is a truly singular work that is self-consciously aware of the limitations of progress humans strive to achieve, and we are pleased to present this debut feature from her.

Love & Fascism is the definitive Duchampian reaction to the ineptitude of progress in the modern world. It’s a sentimental essay-film about longing and love in the vein of Godard’s Histoire(s) du cinéma – not to be missed.

Digby Houghton, guest programmer

In Victorian College of the Arts graduate Carmen-Sibha Keiso’s Love & Fascism in the 21st Century, a process of seeking authenticity was realised through a feature-length, collaborative essay-film, which dismantled rhetoric of methodology and modern theatre with monologue and meta interrogations of performativity.”
- Patrick Gunasekera

https://pelicanmagazine.com.au/2019/05/13/rigour-and-intricacy-a-review-of-hatched-national-graduate-show-2019/  

[Meow TV] sits in an uneven space between documentation and the way in which documents function within the self-mythologising system of art. It records a small scene at a certain time, while parodying the possibility of a truthful document.”

https://offsite.westspace.org.au/work/meowtv-episode-1-2-3-4/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T8O9e6yMVB0&ab_channel=CalumLockey

[Love & Fascism in the 21st Century] is literary in the sense that it references '70s experimental cut-up praxis and the Theatre of the Absurd. It is film-making (or writing) experiencing an identity crisis, particularly in the sense that each ‘character,’ is comprised of many disembodied voices narrating in (un)familiar euro accents.”
- Audrey Schmidt @ Letterboxd

https://letterboxd.com/ubu_r/film/love-fascism-in-the-21st-century/
_____

 

Separating the art from the artist
by Digby Houghton, Pure Shit: Australian Cinema, May 9, 2024

 

Carmen-Sibha Keiso and Digby Houghton and Bill Mousoulis Zoom video interview
by Peter Krausz, Movie Metropolis, WYN-FM, May 10, 2024

 

Digby Houghton radio interview (at the beginning, of May 11 show)
by Melinda O'Connor, On Screen, 3CR, May 11, 2024








Photos of the screening (full gallery on Facebook)


Video of the Q&A discussion at the end:




Tuesday, July 9, 8:30 pm
Thornbury Picture House, house prices. Tickets here.

Celia (1989, 103 mins, dir: Ann Turner)
Guest programmed by Digby Houghton
Q&A with Ann Turner, moderated by Digby Houghton.

Swinburne/VCA graduate Ann Turner's debut feature film Celia
(1989) has been having a surge in its reputation in recent years
with re-releases and a digital restoration. It is a film about
childhood showing the conservatism of Australian politics at
the height of the Red Scare in the 1950s. This
brooding
coming-of-age family drama
has recently become championed
by horror film fanatics worldwide because of the recurring Hobyah
story told throughout it. (Digby Houghton)

 
   

Celia is Ann Turner’s debut feature length movie from 1989 about childhood showing the conservatism of Australian politics at the height of the Red Scare. Set during 1958 in the quaint suburb of Surrey Hills in Melbourne, the film retroactively uses the Cold War and the paranoia of the Red Scare engulfing Australia. Turner uses this conflict as a backdrop to explore wider issues of conflict between neighbours, political allegiances and school peers. The brooding film has recently become championed by horror fanatics because of the recurring Hobyah story told throughout.

Celia (Rebecca Smart) is a young girl who loses her grandmother, a member of the Communist Party, early in the film. Her father Ray (Nicholas Eadie) is an engineer but did not inherit his mother’s politics.

A new family move in next door to Celia consisting of the father Steve (Alexander Hutchinson) and his wife Alice (Victoria Longley). Steve and Ray both work for the same company (the Postmaster-General's Department) but hardly see one another. Celia is curious about Steve and Alice’s Communist sentiments and begins spending more time at the Tanner’s house. Inspector Bourke (William Zappa), Ray’s brother, is iron-fisted and suspicious of the new neighbours.

Celia takes sanctuary in her pet Rabbit called Murgatroyd. However, history overshadows the film as rabbits become outlawed by Victorian Premier Henry Bolte causing tension for Celia. Turner’s film blends recurring tropes of her films including characters who appear distressed, suspicious and distrustful when in their home. 

Ann Turner was a student at Swinburne University (which would become VCA) under the guidance of Peter Tammer. Her graduate film Flesh on Glass was made in 1981 before making Celia her debut feature film in 1989. This would lead to a career as a screenwriter (Turtle Beach for director Stephen Wallace in 1992) and as a director with the further feature films Hammers Over the Anvil (1993), Dallas Doll (1994) and more recently Irresistible (2006).

Digby Houghton, guest programmer

Ann Turner and Digby Houghton Zoom video interview
by Peter Krausz, Movie Metropolis, WYN-FM, June 28, 2024

 

Ann Turner radio interview (from 16:13 on June 29 show)
by Melinda O'Connor, On Screen, 3CR, June 29, 2024


Thanks to Umbrella Home Entertainment

Celia’s eerie atmosphere is situated in this new temporality for leftists, who found themselves not as the inheritors of the future but relegated to the domain of memory.
-
Grace Brooks, Overland

The arid Australian landscape is at once banal and mysterious; the hideous creatures stalking Celia's favourite fiction are as real to her as the taunts of an obnoxious cousin.
- Time Out Magazine






Photos of the screening (full gallery on Facebook)


Video of the Q&A discussion at the end:


 


Archive of previous programs - 2018 / 2019 / 2020 / 2021 / 2022 / 2023