North Bellarine Film Festival president Bill Lussier is optimistic his favourite local event will premier as planned at the Potato Shed from November 12 to 14. The Portarlington local and American expat speaks to Luke Voogt about his love of the silver screen.
Tell us about you…
I am 61-years-old. I grew up in Chicopee, Massachusetts, which is in the New England region of the US.
I emigrated to Australia in 1998 and spent the next six years in Port Lincoln, South Australia.
I began working with the Victorian Fisheries Authority in 2004 at Snobs Creek and in Melbourne before relocating to Queenscliff in 2013.
My last role before retiring from the authority earlier this year was as manager of marine and estuarine fisheries.
My partner Sue and I live in Portarlington with our 15-year-old terrier Bruno.
How did you become a film-lover?
My earliest memories are of going to see Mary Poppins and The Sound of Music.
As a teenager, I spent a lot of time watching James Bond and Bruce Lee films at the Saturday matinees.
My favourite films have complex characters and believable storylines that keep me engrossed, but I’ll give any film five minutes to get me hooked. My all-time favourite is To Kill a Mockingbird.
What is your role in the North Bellarine Film Festival?
I joined the festival committee in 2018, and I’m now its president and the chair of our Emerging Filmmaker Award selection panel.
I really enjoy the process of organising the annual festival, but my favourite part is calling filmmakers to tell them that they have won an award.
The winner has usually forgotten that they submitted their film, but once they figure out what the guy with the American accent is talking about, they are thrilled.
A big challenge for small festivals like ours is putting together an interesting alternative to what is in cinemas or on streaming services.
We are also starting to present additional events such as the short film program we recently held at a Geelong winery.
What are your favourite things to do locally?
Geelong is a fantastic place to live.
Some of my favourite things to do –restrictions permitting – are dining on Little Malop Street or at any of our other great restaurants and wineries, visiting Geelong Botanic Gardens and cycling along The Esplanade between Portarlington and St Leonards and along the Barwon River.
How are you coping with COVID-19?
I’m staying very busy working on the 2021 film festival and identifying new cycling routes that are within five kilometres of home.
It helps that we live in a great town where you will always run into someone you know and say a quick ‘hi’.
Like most people, I yearn for a time when we can make plans, go places and catch up with friends, but until then, I’m very happy to be living where I am.
What’s something about you that people might not know?
After spending three years with Bruno in dog obedience school, the only thing that he will do semi-consistently on command is drop.