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The writings of Bill Mousoulis

A Guide to Greek-Australian Film-makers
(last updated - the list Dec 2009, the commentary April 1999)

INTRODUCTION

The Australian film industry is a curious beast, never quite sure of itself, and always struggling to survive. It kept pace with the rest of the world early in the century, but from about 1940 it went through a long fallow period, where features were made only sporadically, until the late '60s. In the '70s, thanks to government support, Australian cinema regenerated itself, in the process producing quality mainstream directors (Weir, Schepisi, Beresford), tough-minded independent directors (Deling, Cowan, Tammer), and a swag of brilliant underground/experimental directors (the Cantrills, Lee, Winkler). In the '80s, complacency set in, the 10BA tax scheme took over, and many unbelievably bad films were made, with even the underground scene being affected, thanks to rising production costs. Now, in the '90s, thanks to those costs, the underground scene is near-dead, but the feature film arena seems to have rejuvenated itself, with such "quirky" (as they say) films like Strictly Ballroom, Muriel's Wedding, Shine, Love And Other Catastrophes, The Castle, proving hits both here and overseas.

Now, Australia prides itself on being (and being seen as) a "multicultural" country, thanks to an immigration policy which has welcomed numerous refugees and others into its land over the last five decades. According to statistics, Australia's current population is around 18.5 million, with 4 million of these people being NESBs (people from a non-English-speaking background). And, of these 4 million, 300,000 (or 1.6 % of the total population) are Greek NESBs (either born in Greece or 2nd [or 3rd, etc.] generation Greeks, born here).

Now, the question is: what impact have these NESBs had on the Australian film industry? Have Australian films reflected their lives, their stories, their points-of-view? And have many of these ethnic people actually ventured behind the camera, to write, produce, direct these films? Before attempting to answer these questions (if only in a brief way), here now is a list of Greek-Australian film-makers (to focus on this particular ethnic group), and their filmographies.


THE FILM-MAKERS

The following is an alphabetical listing of Greek-Australian film directors, and not writers or producers or anything else, the director usually being the one recognised as the "author" (or certainly the "personality") of each film.

Where the information is known, the year and country of birth are then given, together with the film school they went to, if any.

A filmography is then supplied, listing films in chronological order, with their year of completion, duration, gauge (for the video works, however, the specific format is not listed), and genre (with sometimes more than one category cited). Where a film-maker's filmography is particularly extensive, only a selected filmography is supplied. Feature films are in upper case, short films in upper-and-lower case. (For the record, short films are those which are 59 minutes and under, whilst those films over 59 minutes which are finished on video or Super-8 are not officially recognised as "features". The same applies to documentaries over 59 minutes long.) The filmographies are restricted to what we normally think of as "films": individual, artistic entities that are somewhere in the field of the narrative-documentary-experimental spectrum (even if shot and/or completed on video). Excluded from the filmographies are TV series, tele-features, ads, music clips, training/corporate videos, multimedia works, etc.

If there is then anything pertinent to say about the director, either on her/his biography or on her/his work, some notes are provided. Finally, there is a quick mention regarding whether or not the director is exploring Greek themes in her/his work. (I.e. exploring them in a direct, obvious sense, by utilising specifically Greek subjects or stories.)

I have listed as many people as possible as I could find information on, but obviously it is an incomplete list. There would be quite a few more emerging and/or underground figures (especially outside of Melbourne) working away out of the spotlight, and detailed research would perhaps also be able to unearth some figures from the '60s and before. Also, some of the details below are incomplete, the film-makers not being easily contactable in some cases. Despite that, I include several film-makers who seem to have made only the one film before then disappearing out of view. Anyone who has ever made a film knows that these film-makers deserve to be listed.

If you would like yourself or someone else listed here, please email Bill Mousoulis.

Acknowledgments to: firstly, Eleni Bertes, for her database on Greek-Australian film-makers; secondly, the AFI Research and Information Centre, for access to their files; thirdly, Vicky Tsaconas, Liz Burke, Sarah Zadeh, Ray Argall, John Cruthers, Corinne Cantrill, Melissa Juhanson, for useful information; and, lastly but not leastly, the film-makers themselves, for providing details about themselves.

 

Toula Anastas (NSW)

Filmography: Ec/Static (1988, 8 mins, Super-8, experimental).

Greek themes: No.

 

Con Anemogiannis (NSW)

Filmography: You Might As Well Live (1997, 55 mins, video, documentary), The Last Coming Out (1992, video, doco).

Notes: Primarily a scriptwriter for documentaries. (Live was shown on SBS in 1998).

Greek themes: No.

 

Antionette Antonopoulos (VIC)

Filmography: Portraits (1985, 5 mins, video, experimental).

Notes: An unknown film/film-maker, perhaps only making the one film in a brief foray into the cinema.

 

Eleni Arbus (VIC) b. 1968, Australia. VCA.

Filmography: Mouth (1998, short), Nameday (2000, short, drama), Wild Thing (2004, short).

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Joanne Aslanis

Filmography: Strolling Players (1985, 15 mins, 16mm, drama).

Greek themes: Another unseen film - perhaps a reference to Angelopoulos' The Travelling Players?

 

Peter Callas (NSW) b. 1952

Filmography (selected): Kiru Umi No Yoni (1987, 22 mins, video, experimental), Night's High Noon (1988, 8 mins, vid, exp), Neo Geo: An American Purchase (1990, 9 mins, vid, exp/animation).

Notes: A noted and prolific video artist, therefore not a "film-maker" as such. A touring exhibition of his work occured in 1999.

 

John Conomos (NSW) b. 1947, Australia. Film school: self-taught.

Filmography (selected): Autumn Song (1997, 23 mins, video, essay)

Notes: Has an MA, currently teaches film and media studies at Sydney College of the Arts, and is also a film critic.

Greek themes: Yes, on and off.

 

Nick Dimitriou (VIC) b. 1969, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: Johnnie (1989, 30 mins, video, drama).

Notes: Worked as a screenwriter and actor in collaboration with John Tsialos (see entry below).

Greek themes: In Johnnie, yes.

 

Sotiris Dounoukos (VIC) b. Australia. Post grad at VCA

(Select) Filmography: Dante in the Park (1998, 10 mins, 16mm, drama), Mona Lisa (2004, 15 mins, 35mm, drama), other shorts also.

Notes: Currently developing first feature.

Greek themes: In Mona Lisa, yes.

 

Spiro Economopoulos (VIC) b. 1969, Australia. School: Victorian College of the Arts.

Filmography: 1001 Suburban Nights (1992, 12 mins, 16mm, exp/anim/essay film), Thug (co-directed with Christos Tsiolkas, 1998, 8 mins, video, essay film).

Notes: Has also done film reviewing, for Melbourne Star Observer and Channel 31. Thug was part of SBS' EAT CARPET's "Still Moving" series in 1998.

Greek themes: Not an overriding concern.

 

Stavros Efthymiou - see entry for Stavros Kazantzidis

 

Emmanuel Gasparinatos (NSW) b. 1959, Australia. Sydney College of the Arts.

Filmography (selected): Modern Lovers (1979, 9 mins, Super-8, experimental), Don't Walk Away in Silence (1980, 3 mins, S-8, exp), "...or..." (1984, 6 mins, S-8, exp), The Turntable Incident (1985, 5 mins, S-8, exp), T.C.F. (Trailer) (1987, 2 mins, S-8, exp).

Notes: A member of the infamous Sydney Super-8 scene of the '80s. I think he has not continued to make films.

Greek themes: No.

 

Andrew Georgiou

Filmography: Bianca - Eau De Toilette (1995, 4 mins, video, drama).

 

Christopher Gogos (VIC) b. 1969, Australia. Harrow College, London.

Filmography: Dio Gratias (1991, 5 mins, 16mm, drama), Waiting... (1994, 4 mins, Super-8, drama), Ancient Allure (1994, 11 mins, 16mm, drama), Alien Big Cats (co-directed with Alkinos Tsilimidos, 1998, 52 mins, 16mm, documentary).

Notes: Born here, but spent most of 1982-95 in Greece and England. Now back here, in Melbourne.

Greek themes: No.

 

Aris Gounaris (VIC) b. 1969, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: The Coffee Connection (1994, 3 mins, Super-8, drama).

Notes: Primarily a theatre director, and actor.

Greek themes: No.

 

George Goularas (VIC) b. 1966, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: For Xaveria Arabella (1989, 13 mins, Super-8, experimental), ...In A Few Words (1989, 9 mins, S-8, exp), Fingerprints of You (1994, 10 mins, S-8, exp), When (1996, 4 mins, S-8, exp), Don't Blink (1998, 18 mins, 16mm, exp/narrative), THE SILENT MANGOES (2009, 100 mins, video, drama).

Notes: Studied architecture before dropping everything for film. Don't Blink was selected as a finalist in 1998's Dendy Awards (Sydney Film Festival).

Greek themes: No.

 

Helen Hassoura (VIC)

(no other details known)

 

Christina Heristanidis (VIC) b. 1964, Australia. RMIT and VCA.

Filmography: The Icon (1993, 4 mins, video, personal/doco/essay film), Herds (1994, 7 mins, 16mm, mockumentary), The Scream (1995, 30 seconds, video, experimental), Byron (1995, 4 mins, Super-8, documentary), A Personal Diary of Style and Taste (1996, 10 mins, 16mm, narrative), Taxithi (1997, 17 mins, video, documentary) Rouge (1997, 2 mins, video, doco), Omelette - A Multicultural Love Story (1998, 26 mins, video, doco), Dear Bert (2000, 26 mins, video, doco)

Notes: Spent some years in the fashion industry before discovering film. Dear Bert was a part of the SBS-TV series "HYBRID LIFE", broadcast early 2001.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Ioannis Ioannou (VIC) b. 1960, Greece. Migrated to Australia in 1973. VCA.

Filmography: Michelangelo (1977, 36 min, Super 8, documentary), No Rules (1992, 7 min, video, experimental), River Bridge City (1992, 14 min, video, drama), Last Train (1993, 3 min, video, drama), Watch the Birdie (1993, 1 min, 16mm, drama), Nine Lives (1993, 16 min, video, drama), Nocturne (1996, 7 min, video, dance film), Panacea (1999, 52 min, video, documentary).

Notes: Has also worked as a director of photography and editor on other directors' productions. Is currently developing his first feature.

Greek themes: No. (Indirectly, however, yes.)

 

Dina Kafiris (NSW, London, Athens) b. 1969, Australia. UTS.

Filmography: The Lost Poem (2000, 4 mins, video/16mm, narrative)

Notes: Currently reading for a PhD in Creative and Critical Writing in the U.K. Primarily a writer.

Greek themes: Yes, but not in the film listed above.

 

Phillip Kanlidis (VIC) b. 1963, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography (selected): Dog Film (1989, 11 mins, Super-8, dramatic doco), Beyond Liptrap (1993, 37 mins, Super-8, exp/narrative).

Notes: Has made numerous other films, the first one in 1980.

Greek themes: In Liptrap, yes.

 

Anna Kannava (VIC) b. Cyprus. Rusden College.

Filmography: Kannava You Can'av'er (1980, 1 min, 16mm, exp/narrative), Wedding of Venus (co-directed with Annie Duncan, 1981, 14 mins, 16mm, exp/narr), Tightrope Water (co-directed with Annie Duncan, 1982, 12 mins, 16mm, exp/narr), Ten Years After ... Ten Years Older (1986, 35 mins, 16mm, doco), Vanilla Essence (1989, 16 mins, 16mm, narrative), The Butler (1997, 58 mins, 16mm, doco), DREAMS FOR LIFE (2004, 76 mins, 16mm/35mm), KISSING PARIS (2008, 90 mins, HDV).

Notes: Migrated to Australia at the age of 15. Has now made a couple of features.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Michael Karris (NSW) b. 1955, Greece. AFTRS

Filmography : Portrait of an Old Man (1976, 5 mins, 16mm, exp), A Face of Greekness (1979, 14 mins, 16mm, drama), Two Homelands (1979, 30 mins, 16mm, doco), Empty Spaces (1982, 10 mins, 16mm, drama), To Ron With Love (1985, 50 mins, video, doco), The Occupant (co-directed with Peter Lyssiotis and Ettore Siracusa, 1985, 25 mins, 16mm, narr/doco/essay film), A Day and a Half (1987, 23 mins, 16mm, drama), In Our Own Image (1988, 30 mins, video, doco), Twilight Child (1991, doco/drama), Carnivale (1996, 6 mins, video, doco), Images of Home (2001, 30 mins, video, doco).

Notes: Born Karaoglanidis. Migrated to Australia when 6 years old. Also works as a cinematographer. Worked on a major multimedia project, "In Their Own Image: Greek-Australians". Excerpts from this project and Twilight Child (an autobiographical work in progress) appeared in video-montages for the play The Wound.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Aris Kartsonas (NSW) b. 1959, Australia. City Art Institute, Sydney.

Filmography (selected): Marathon (1982, 10 mins, Super-8, exp), Baby in Rem (1982, Super-8).

Greek themes: No.

 

Desma Kastanos (SA)

Filmography: Adio (1992, 15 mins, 16mm, narrative).

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Tony Kastanos (NSW)

Filmography: Amerika Amerika (1990, 7 mins, video, animation)

 

Nick Kavalieratos (VIC)

Filmography: Park Street (1996, 45 mins, 16 mm, drama).

Notes: A curio here - a long, presumably self-funded, film, which screened at the 1996 Melbourne Fringe Festival, but nowhere else.

 

Stavros Kazantzidis (NSW) b. 1961, Cyprus. Australian Film, Television, and Radio School.

Filmography: Terminal (1991, 28 mins, 16mm, drama), Road to Alice (1992, 29 mins, 16mm, drama), TRUE LOVE AND CHAOS (1997, 96 mins, 35mm, drama), RUSSIAN DOLL (2001, 90 mins, 35mm, drama), HORSEPLAY (2003, 100 mins, 35mm, drama).

Notes: Lived in England before coming to Australia in 1980. Producer of Emma-Kate Croghan's features LOVE AND OTHER CATASTROPHES and STRANGE PLANET. Changed his surname from Efthymiou to Kazantzidis in 1998.

Greek themes: No.

 

Ana Kokkinos (VIC) b. 1958, Australia. VCA.

Filmography: Antamosi (1991, 38 mins, 16mm, drama), Only the Brave (1994, 59 mins, 16mm, drama), HEAD ON (1998, 104 mins, 35mm, drama), THE BOOK OF REVELATION (2006, 118 mins, 35mm, drama), BLESSED (2009, 113 mins, 35mm, drama).

Notes: Worked as a solicitor before beginning her film career. Has also directed for TV.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Anna Kotanidis (VIC) b. 1961, Australia.

Filmography (selected): Iloby (1982, 8 mins, 16mm, experimental).

Notes: A multi-faceted artist, has done dance, acting, etc.

 

Daniel Kotsanis (VIC) b. 1964, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: Life is Awful End (1991, 2 mins, Super-8, experimental), Psychedelic Foot Soldier (1992, 10 mins, video, exp), Revolving Head (1993, 4 mins, video, exp), I'm In My Own World, Where Are You? (1993, 3 mins, S-8, exp/doc), Joint (1994, 30 mins, video, exp), Predispositions (1994, 3 mins, S-8, exp/doc), Anti-Kennett Rallies (1994, 11 mins, S-8, doco), Book (1994, 1 mins, 16mm, narrative), Simone and Mark (1995, 10 mins, S-8, doco), Crucifix Tree (1996, 3 mins, S-8, exp), Albert Park Vigil (1996, 2 mins, S-8, doco), Machine (1996, 1 mins, S-8, exp), Sacrificial or Stoic (1996, 20 mins, S-8, exp/biography), Luddites' Prayer (1996, 10 mins, S-8, exp), Lucifer Gets Hammered (1996, 3 mins, S-8, exp), A Rest For My Eye, A Rest For My Heart, and A Rest For My Head (1996, 5 mins, S-8, exp), Ghosts/Rot of Decay (1996, 4 mins, S-8, exp), Bad Seeds at Palais (1997, 5 mins, S-8, doco), Big Deal, Big Desert Wilderness, Part One (1997, 8 mins, S-8, exp/doco), Exposed (1997, 2 mins, S-8, exp), Automated Predisposition (1998, 6 mins, S-8, exp).

Notes: One of the Melbourne Super-8 Film Group's more anarchist-experimental film-makers.

Greek themes: No.

 

Christos Linou (VIC) b. 1962, Australia. Self-taught.

(Select) Filmography: Cartoons (1994, 5 mins, Super-8, animation), Hula Who (1995, 4 mins, S-8, greek culture), Bordering on Dance (1995, 9 mins, S-8, australian farm life), Isabella's Birthday (1996, 2 mins, S-8, home movie), On The Edge (1996, 3 mins, S-8, greek culture), Epiphani (1996, 8 mins, S-8, greek culture), 2D/Shad.ddw. Part 1 (1996, 5 mins, S-8, dance), 2D/Shad.ddw. Part 2 (1997, 3 mins, S-8, dance), A Troll Day Out (1997, 2 mins, S-8, animation), Swinging Babies (1997, 4 mins, S-8, animation), Hobart (1997, 3 mins, S-8), The Hungry Sun (1998, 5 mins, S-8, animation), Fiddle De Die (1998, 3 mins, S-8, dance), A Holy Cleansing (1998, 3 mins, S-8), Between Spaces (1998, 3 mins, S-8), Virus (1998, 3 mins, S-8), Footage (1998, 6 mins, S-8), Dividing Link (1998, 3 mins, S-8, experimental dance), Solvent (1999, 10 mins, S-8, experimental), I Awkwardly (2000, 8 mins, S-8, experimental dance), Siren (2001, 6 mins, S-8, experimental dance), Crunching (2007, 1 min, DV).

Notes: Has a background in dance and theatre.

Greek themes: Yes, on and off.

 

Peter Lyssiotis

Filmography: The Occupant (co-directed with Michael Karris and Ettore Siracusa, 1985, 25 mins, 16mm, narr/doco/essay film), The Ifs of Language (co-directed with Michael Karris, 2003, 10 mins, video essay).

Notes: Primarily a photographer.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Lex Marinos (NSW)

Filmography: AN INDECENT OBSESSION (1985, 106 mins, 35mm, drama), BOUNDARIES OF THE HEART (1988, 95 mins, 35mm, drama), To The Island (1990, 56 mins, video, doco).

Notes: Primarily an actor. Has also directed TV shows/films.

Greek themes: Only in the last work listed.

 

Michael Mastrodimos (VIC) b. 1968, New Zealand. (short courses)

Filmography: Burning (1995, 10 mins, video, drama).

Notes: Has lived in Australia since 1984.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Arthur Micholopoulos (VIC)   RMIT

Filmography: The Last Tram (2000, 5 mins, video, animation)

 

George Miller (USA) b. 1945, Australia.

Filmography: Violence in the Cinema, Part 1 (1972, 14 mins, 35mm, mocko), Devil in Evening Dress (1973, doco), MAD MAX (1979, 91 mins, 35mm, drama), MAD MAX 2 (1981, 94 mins, 35mm, drama), episode of TWILIGHT ZONE - THE MOVIE (USA, 1993, 101 mins, 35mm, drama), MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (1985, 106 mins, 35mm, drama), THE WITCHES OF EASTWICK (USA, 1987, 118 mins, 35mm, drama), LORENZO'S OIL (USA, 1992, 135 mins, 35mm, drama), BABE IN METROPOLIS (1998, 35mm, drama), HAPPY FEET (2006, 109 mins, 35mm, drama).

Notes: A child of Greek migrants. Studied medicine and was then a doctor. Currently in Hollywood.

Greek themes: No.

 

Alex Morcos

Filmography: The Seedling (co-directed with Ken Radley, 1995, 10 mins, 16mm).

 

Bill Mousoulis (VIC) b. 1963, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography (selected): Doubt (1982, 8 mins, Super-8, drama), Dreams Never End (1983, 9 mins, S-8, drama), J.C.: The Jewellery-Case (1984, 10 mins, S-8, drama), Back to Nature (1985, 13 mins, S-8, drama), Physical World (1986, 10 mins, S-8, drama), Faith (1987, 27 mins, S-8, drama), Glorious Day (1987, 12 mins, 16mm, exp/narrative), Knowing Me, Knowing You (1988, 8 mins, S-8, essay film), After School (1988, 20 mins, 16mm, drama), Between Us (1989, 37 mins, 16mm, drama), Crazy Motherfucker (1989, 3 mins, S-8, drama/exp), Michelangelo's Dream (1991, 5 mins, S-8, narrative/essay film), Open City (1993, 80 mins, S-8, drama), Ladykiller (1994, 80 mins, S-8, drama), The Shadows (1996, 7 mins, S-8, exp), MY BLESSINGS (1997, 78 mins, 16mm, drama), DESIRE (1999, 77 mins, 16mm, drama), LOVESICK (2002, 70 mins, Super-16, drama), BLUE NOTES (2006, 93 mins, DV, drama), A NOCTURNE (2007, 70 mins, DV, drama).

Notes: Was administrator of Melbourne Super-8 Film Group from 1985 to 1991. Has made 90+ films in total.

Greek themes: For the main part, no. (some in BLUE NOTES)

 

Nicholas Nedelkopoulos (VIC) b. 1955, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography (selected): Dream Sequence (1971, 4 mins, Standard 8mm, surreal/exp), Nature's Way (co-directed with Paul Mathews, 1972, 5 mins, Super-8, doco), Guilt (1975, 18 mins, S-8, doco), Charm and Grace (1975, 20 mins, S-8, expanded home movie), Easter (1976, 9 mins, S-8, expanded home movie), Edgerton (1979, 19 mins, S-8, expanded home movie), Gone Troppo (1984, 35 mins, S-8, expanded travelogue), Victoria's 150th (1985, 9 mins, S-8, expanded travelogue), Deca (1995, 3 mins, S-8, experimental), He Drew Like an Angel (2001, 6 mins, video, doco).

Notes: A noted artist (paintings, drawings, etc.), with film-making being a side interest.

Greek themes: Yes, in Charm and Grace, Easter, Edgerton.

 

John Nikolakopoulos (NSW) b. 1974, Australia. Macquarie University.

Filmography: The Hydra (2001, 11 mins, 16mm, drama)

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Gregory Pakis (VIC) b. 1972, Australia. Latrobe Uni.

Filmography: various short films from 1988, and feature THE GARTH METHOD (2004, 81 mins, DV, drama).

Greek themes: No.

 

John Papadopoulos (NSW) b. 1948, Greece. AFTRS.

Filmography: Out Of Mind (1971, 5 mins, 16mm, drama), Dead End (1972, 11 mins, 16mm, drama), The Offering (1973, 10 mins, 16mm, drama), Matchless (1974, 55 mins, 16mm, drama), Jog's Trot (1978, 55 mins, 16mm, drama).

Notes: Migrated to Australia when 4 years old. Spent some years directing TV ads, then 10 years as an exhibitor.

Greek themes: No.

 

Kay Pavlou (NSW) b. 1960, Australia. AFTRS.

Filmography: The Lacking (1987, 10 mins, 16mm, drama), The Killing of Angelo Tsakos (1989, 27 mins, 16mm, drama), MARY (1994, 75 mins, 35mm, drama).

Notes: Obtained a BA from Flinders Uni in SA before moving to Sydney and tackling film-making. Has also directed things for TV: a tele-feature LOULLA, a 2-part doco CYPRUS: A PEOPLE DIVIDED, and a couple more docos CONVICTED and NOT A BEDROOM WAR. At one point she developed a feature about her parents' migration from Cyprus to Australia, but it remains unproduced.

Greek themes: Of the films listed, only in Tsakos.

 

Manolis Plantzos (NSW)

(no other details known)

 

Peter Polyzoidis (NSW)

Filmography: Bull Ants (1990, 2 mins, 16mm, animation).

 

Alex Proyas (USA) b. 1961, Australia. AFTRS.

Filmography: Debris (1980?), Strange Residues (1981, 8 mins, 35mm), Groping (co-directed with Salik Silverstein, 1981, 8 mins, 35mm, experimental/narrative), SPIRITS OF THE AIR, GREMLINS OF THE CLOUDS (1988, 93 mins, 16mm, drama), THE CROW (USA, 1994, 101 mins, 35mm, drama), DARK CITY (1998, 100 mins, 35mm, drama), GARAGE DAYS (2002, 105 mins, 35mm, drama) and more features in Hollywood.

Greek themes: No.

 

Tom Psomotragos (VIC/NSW) b. 1953, Greece. Melbourne Teachers College / VCA.

Filmography (selected): My Bomb Cartoon (1971, Super-8, exp), Figure One (co-directed with Trevor Graham, 1977, 25 mins, 16mm), Walls of Silence (with T.Graham, 1978, 10 mins, 16mm), Remnant Blue (with T. Graham, 1979, 7 mins, 16mm), Shadows (co-directed with Rod Irvine, 1984, 11 mins, 16mm).

Notes: Migrated to Australia when 2 years old. First film part of a series done at Melbourne High School. Has worked as a stills photographer on feature films. Now works as a professional photographer.

 

Strutts Psyridis (SA)

(No other details known.)

 

Philip Samartzis (VIC)

Filmography (selected): Venus Smiles (1988, video, experimental), Jukebox Racket (1989, 3 mins, video, exp), Cavity (1996, video).

Notes: I think Philip is primarily a sound artist, and I think he currently teaches at RMIT.

 

Jim Sergianis (VIC)

Filmography: Argus (1993, 6 mins, 16mm)

 

Laki Sideris (VIC) b. 1966, Greece. Self-taught.

Filmography: The Guitar Hero (1989, 10 mins, Super-8, mocko/narrative), Madonna (1990, 7 mins, S-8, diary/essay film), I Think I Just Killed Max (1990, 5 mins, S-8, drama/mocko), The Hook (1991, 3 mins, S-8, experimental), Jogger (1992, 4 mins, S-8, experimental).

Notes: Migrated to Australia when 2 years old. Currently working at RMIT, away from film-making, in the electronic/publishing department.

Greek themes: No.

 

Fionn Skiotis (VIC) b. 1964, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: Levantes (co-directed with Lisa Horler, 1998, 41 mins, video, drama/doco/essay film), From Here to Ithaca (2000, 26 mins, video, doco).

Notes: Has worked primarily in the community sector. Levantes grew out of a stay in Greece in '91-'92 and was broadcast on SBS-TV in 1998. From Here to Ithaca was a part of the SBS-TV series "HYBRID LIFE", broadcast early 2001.

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Peter Sotirakis (VIC) b. 1962, Rhodes, Greece. RMIT.

Filmography: Missing Presumed Dead (1985, 28 mins, video, experimental), Vampire (1986, 20 mins, video, drama), Jack the Rabbit (1988, 20 mins, 16mm, drama), Black Angel Death Song (1997, 55 mins, video, black comedy), Broken Circles: The Return from Exile (2009, 75 mins, DV, documentary).

Notes: Migrated to Australia in 1964. Re-located to Spain in 1993, where he currently works as a freelance writer/translator and production fixer.

Greek themes: Yes, in Broken Circles: The Return from Exile.

 

Timothy Spanos (VIC) b. 1969, Australia. Rusden / Footscray City College.

(Select) Filmography: Sacred Place (1995, 3 mins, video, drama), Psychedelic Playboy (1996, 5 mins, video, narrative), Bog (1996, 3 mins, video, narrative), Prisoner Queen (1996, 4 mins, video, drama), Vicious Mink (1997, 28 mins, video, narrative), Vixen (1997, 7 mins, video, mocko), The Little White Boat (1998, 4 mins, video, narrative), The Nipple Clampers (1999, 9 mins, video, black comedy), Black Lindy, White Lindy (1999, 12 mins, video, narrative), several features in recent years including MOONLIGHT AND MAGIC (2007, 90 mins, HDV).

Notes: Has a theatrical/dance background, and still works as an actor occasionally.

Greek themes: Traces, here and there, in Sacred Place and Prisoner Queen, and more directly, in The Little White Boat.

 

Jim Stamatakos (VIC) b. 1961, Australia. Footscray City College.

(Select) Filmography: Wig Out (1994, 2 mins, S-8, narrative), Paris, New York, London (1995, 6 mins, video, exp/doco), Pictures of You (1996, 3 mins, S-8, narrative), Trilogy of Horror, Part One (1996, 16 mins, video, narrative), Regurgitate (1997, 3 mins, video, narrative), Bring Forth Monsters (1997, 3 mins, video, narrative), Misfortune (1998, 4 mins, video & 16mm, narrative), Lilith (2006, 5 mins, 16mm, experimental).

Notes: Worked as an accountant for many years before seeing the light.

Greek themes: No.

 

Nadia Tass (VIC) b. 1956, Greece.

Filmography: MALCOLM (1986, 90 mins, 35mm, drama), RIKKY AND PETE (1988, 101 mins, 35mm, drama), THE BIG STEAL (1990, 99 mins, 35mm, drama), PURE LUCK (USA, 1991, 96 mins, 35mm, drama), MR. RELIABLE (1996, 113 mins, 35mm, drama), AMY (1998, 90 mins, 35mm, drama).

Notes: Born Tassopoulos, migrated to Australia when 10 years old. Has worked in TV in recent years.

Greek themes: No, although the character of Malcolm was based on a real-life Greek person.

 

John Tatoulis (VIC) b. 1954, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: IN TOO DEEP (1989, 103 mins, 35mm, drama), THE SILVER BRUMBY (1993, 104 mins, 35mm, drama), ZONE 39 (1995, 95 mins, 35mm, drama), BEWARE OF GREEKS BEARING GUNS (1999, 35mm, drama)

Notes: Worked as a journalist before entering film-making. Beware of Greeks Bearing Guns is the first official Australian-Greek co-production to be made.

Greek themes: No.

 

John Tsialos (VIC) b. 1973, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: I Need Satisfaction (1991, 5 mins, Super-8, drama), The Floyd (1997, 58 mins, video, surreal drama), Byrock (1998, 86 mins, video, doco), Mama Baba Then Ime Ellinas (1998, 40 mins, video, doco/drama).

Greek themes: Only in the last film listed, a film which caused as much controversy as Levantes in 1998 in the pages of the local Greek papers.

 

Alkinos Tsilimidos (VIC) b. 1966, Australia. VCA.

(Select) Filmography: Man of Straw (1988, 28 mins, 16mm, doco), EVERYNIGHT...EVERYNIGHT (1994, 92 mins, 16mm, drama), Alien Big Cats (co-directed with Christopher Gogos, 1998, 52 mins, 16mm, doco), SILENT PARTNER (2001, 84 mins, 35mm, drama), TOM WHITE (2004, 106 mins, 35mm, drama).

Greek themes: Only in Man of Straw.

 

Christos Tsiolkas (VIC/ACT) b. 1966, Australia. Self-taught.

Filmography: Thug (co-directed with Spiro Economopoulos, 1998, 8 mins, video, essay film).

Notes: Primarily a writer (Ana Kokkinos' HEAD ON is an adaption of Christos' novel Loaded).

Greek themes: Only in the sense that Thug seems to run like an autobiography.

 

Toula Tzoras (VIC)

Filmography: She Saw The See Saw (co-directed with Cranston Brecht, 1994, 10 mins, video, drama).

 

Aleksi Vellis (VIC) b. 1960, Australia. VCA.

Filmography: Love Me Stupid (1984, 35 mins, 16mm, drama), NIRVANA STREET MURDER (1990, 75 mins, 35mm, drama), THE LIFE OF HARRY DARE (1995, 90 mins, 35mm, drama), Win Some Lose Some (1996, 55 mins, video, doco), THE WOGBOY (2000, 92 mins, 35mm, drama)

Notes: Completed a BA at Melb Uni before going to Swinburne (VCA). Also directs for TV - series and ads.

Greek themes: In The Wogboy.

 

George Viscas (VIC)

Filmography: Boss Boy (1987, 28 mins, 16mm, drama).

Greek themes: Yes.

 

Christina Vydiniotis (NSW)

Filmography: Feel For You (1985, 5 mins, Super-8, narrative).

Notes: Another member of the '80s Sydney Super-8 scene.

Greek themes: No.

 

BRIEF OVERVIEW

Firstly, have Greek-Australians been given "a fair go" as directors in the Australian film industry, in terms of numbers represented? Let's look at some statistics, for the feature film arena. In the period 1978-94, 341 feature films were theatrically released. In the period 1995-98, 117 feature films were produced (i.e. this includes those which did not/will not get a release). Of these 458 films, 19 were directed by Greeks. (Or: 4.1 %.) There is a difference between the two periods. Greeks directed 11 out of 341 films (3.2 %) in '78-'94, and 8 out of 117 films (6.8 %) in '95-'98. In the first period, the mainstream directors Miller, Tass, Proyas, Marinos, Tatoulis account for 9 of the 11 films, the other two being by the independents Vellis and Pavlou. In the second period, Tass and Tatoulis account for 3 of the 8 films, the other five being by Vellis (his 2nd feature), and by more independents in Tsilimidos, Efthymiou, myself and Kokkinos (their 1st features). This is all very understandable: most 2nd generation Greeks were born in the '60s, and so they are now the right age to be making an impact. Which means that there will certainly be more features coming from Greek-Australian film-makers in the next 5, 10, 20 years. Of the short film-makers listed above, Kannava is poised to make her debut feature over the next couple of years, with maybe also others to follow (Gogos, Goularas, Heristanidis, Stamatakos, Tsialos). (Sorry if I have left anyone out of this list - prove me wrong!)

I would suggest that, overall, seeing as Greek NESBs make up only 1.6 % of the Australian population, Greeks are well-represented behind the camera in the Australian film scene. A brief comparison with other NESB film directors highlights this even more. Australia has always had mainstream NESBs like Mora, Amenta, Schultz, Schepisi, Safran, etc., but the names to present here would be the more independent-minded directors: Cox, de Heer, Mueller, Hoaas, Chan, Law, Acquisto, Pellizzari. And that is as far as the list goes, for feature films. Which means that all of Australia's ethnic groups can only boast one or two feature film-makers at most, whilst we Greeks have all the aforementioned ones. Or how about another comparison, with another "minority" (51 % that is), women? Of the 458 feature films since 1974, only 53 (11.6 %) were directed by women. As with Greek directors, however, the situation is getting better: women directed 33 of 341 films (9.7 %) in '78-'94, but then 23 of 117 films (19.7 %) in '95-'98. Slowly but surely, Australian cinema is becoming more interesting, reflecting both cultural and sexual diversity in terms of who gets allowed to be behind the camera.

Now, what about in front of the camera, within the films' frames - are Greek characters, stories and viewpoints represented? Are themes such as identity, migration, assimilation, cultural dislocation, racism, etc. explored? Do the directors in question uphold and celebrate their ethnicity (their family customs, their religion, their mores), or are they indifferent, or even antagonistic, towards it? The results are, of course, a mixed bag.

The first wave of Greek-Australian film directors - Miller, Tass, Proyas, Tatoulis - seem to have assimilated themselves (name changes and all) quickly and successfully into mainstream Anglo-Australian culture, leaving barely a trace of Greekness in their work. John Papadopoulos, also from that first period, likewise does not explore specifically Greek themes in his films. Of the second wave of directors, those hitting their straps from the mid-'80s onwards, the following also have an almost total absence of Greek subjects/themes from their films: Efthymiou, Goularas, Kotsanis, myself, Stamatakos, Sideris, and several others.

At the other end of the scale, quite a few of the directors listed in this article do tackle specifically Greek subject matter. Karris especially seems to have a deep and genuine passion for Greek issues. Kannava also has an ongoing preoccupation with Greek issues, in particular the issue of bi-culturalism. Heristanidis, Desma Kastonas, Linou, Nedelkopoulos, Skiotis, Spanos and Viscas also portray and/or explore Greek ways/problems/results in their work.

But there are film-makers problematically in between these two camps. Kokkinos' work, for example, seems to be wholly about Greek characters, but I believe the ethnicity of her characters is secondary to the actual human drama taking place (apart from in Antamosi, which definitely has a Greek "atmosphere" to it - more on this below). The same for Vellis' work - the Greek characters that appear here and there are simply part of the whole tapestry Vellis is interested in presenting. As for Pavlou and Tsilimidos, their respective features are not Greek at all, but Pavlou's short The Killing of Angelo Tsakos is about a Greek youth, whilst Tsilimidos' short Man of Straw is a devastating portrait of a particular Greek male type (the gambler).

Now, there is a more complex way approaching the question of whether or not all these Greek-Australian film-makers are "Greek". Direct, literal subject matter is only one way of attacking this question. The other ways are: thematically, but metaphorically; aesthetically; stylistically; and, more nebulously, according to "sense", or "philosophy".

For example, the metaphorical way: Stavros Efthymiou's films, all of them about geographical dislocation, can quite easily be read as films about cultural dislocation (reflecting Efthymiou's own story). Or look at a character like Vellis' Harry Dare (a blackfella): isn't Harry an underdog, an outsider, trying to put his life together, just like many Greek-Australians?

As for aesthetically, what I mean is a love for and/or understanding of the specific looks, surfaces, textures, faces, etc. of Greek life. As mentioned, Antamosi has this, and so do Heristanidis' The Icon, Nedelkopoulos' expanded home movies, Karris' work, and, especially, Kannava's Ten Years After ... Ten Years Older. (I find this "aesthetic" quality even stronger in Italian-Australian work, for example, the films of Monica Pellizzari, Ettore Siracusa, Nicolina Caia.)

Stylistically, I think Greek-Australian film-makers have much to offer Australian cinema. Of course, "style" is always a vague concept (unlike form or structure, for example). I believe it is related to other hard-to-pinpoint quantities such as "feel" and "tone", and that it is really these things (rather than plot, characters, themes) that provide the real meaning (and pleasure) of every film. I think Kannava heads the list here. Her The Butler (like Tahir Cambis and Alma Sahbaz' Exile in Sarajevo) has a free-wheeling style that is both personal and analytical, and that eschews many of the conventions of documentary. I get a similar sense when watching the films of Vellis, Tsilimidos and Kokkinos (although Kokkinos, for me, veers towards convention) - there is a sense of adventure, looseness, yet also seriousness, in the styles employed. The same can be said for Monica Pellizzari's Fistful of Flies. Compare these directors with the bland, "good taste" style offered by other so-called "independent" Australian directors recently (Lang, Nowlan, Mahood, Ruane, Flanagan, etc.) (People criticised Efthymiou for the extended shots of Miranda Otto singing and dancing in True Love and Chaos, deeming them "extraneous", but it is that type of "taking off" that is the hallmark of great, risky cinema á la Godard or Ruiz.) Of course, the short film-makers (being free from executives looking over their shoulders) have style in abundance. The experimental work of Goularas and Kotsanis, for example, is totally exhilarating and meaningful.

And as for "sense" or "philosophy", one can view certain directors' work according to either traditional or modern Greek "qualities". For example, Pavlou's Angelo Tsakos, Tsilimidos' Everynight, Kokkinos' Head On - these display the modern Greek quality of confrontation, wanting to point out injustices, wanting to politicise (one of Tsiolkas' main aims). John Papadopoulos suggested to me that his work veers towards melancholy and seriousness, qualities he considers Greek. And, of course, we all know about Miller's obsession with notions of "the hero", "the journey", etc. One could say that Homeric/Olympian qualities characterise all dramas, but I think one can still differentiate between peculiarly Greek qualities and the bastardisation/colonisation of such (by American soapies, for example). This genuine "Greek" quality can be seen in the work of Linou for example (the dance films), Spanos' Vicious Mink, Kanlidis' Dog Film, Sideris' The Guitar Hero - films which celebrate performance, excess, music, dance, in other words, "Dionysian" films. At the other extreme, my own work, which is very minimal and still, can be seen as representing the "Apollinian" qualities of calm, control, grace.

One final question: how does the work of these Greek-Australian film-makers compare with the work of other film-makers in Australia, when all is said and done? A purely subjective judgment: Goularas and Kotsanis as our best, and the equal to the non-Greek Michael Lee, followed then by more non-Greeks in Argall, McKenzie, Cox, followed then by Kannava, Vellis and Tsilimidos, followed then by the non-Greek Sue Brooks - that would be my list of Australia's ten best film directors.

As for the general consensus in critical opinion, Kokkinos (for Head On and also Only the Brave) is rated very highly, Kannava likewise (but with far less fanfare), whilst Efthymiou received an inexplicable savaging for his film True Love and Chaos (I reckon Kiss or Kill should have got that savaging). As for Tsilimidos and Vellis, I get the feeling that they are liked, but also tolerated, by the critics and the film industry, for they come across as (pardon the politically incorrect cross-cultural reference) "Young Turks", having a bit of an edge to them.

And why not? To quote John Conomos from his article "Cultural Difference and Ethnicity in Australian Cinema" (Cinema Papers, 90, Oct. '92): "The fundamental value of multicultural films is that they typify a healthy, sceptical response to orthodoxy and dogma; they represent an incisive critique of the narrowmindedness of monoculturalism articulated from the site of marginality or contrapuntal existence."

Ah, that good old "contrapuntal existence". Vivé la differénce!


See also Is Your Film Language Greek? Some thoughts on Greek-Australian film-makers
© Bill Mousoulis 1998-2009