Lyrical Visions

Lyrical Visions is an annual showcase of short films and animations inspired by visual or written poetry, screened every December in Titirangi Theatre, Auckland. It explores the creative force fields at the intersections between creative writing and cinema, and mixes single screen work with multimedia performance. Each show combines the work of Auckland based artist film makers, film students, poets and composers, alongside selected international projects.

The screenings are curated by Martin Sercombe and Robin Kewell, and have been sponsored by Barfoot and Thompson, AUT and SAE Institute.




Lyrical Visions II Programme

Solo Group-Exhibition Gus Simonovic (performance) 10 mins

Reflections and contemplations on the way in which we relate and form relationships in the modern world… self and different aspects of self, the family, our upbringing and conditioning, our nationality, our country, our ego, religion, science, nature, the past and future, the spirit… 

Connection ( or the lack of ) to one self, one another, one’s closes-est one and society, society to society, culture to culture, to the old and to the new and to the timeless in all of us. Explorations of concepts of i-dentity and we-dentity.

Patea River by David Sinfield (video) 2 mins 16 secs

In this piece, it asks “What is the potential of kinetic typography, sound, imagery and the content of recorded speech to capture the poetic nature of remembered space?”

This Poem Film is about Patea river and the first settlers that came to the area of Patea. Turi, the captain of the Aotea canoe, reached the parara ki te uru. As he and his followers threw down their burdens (Pātea) he named the place in full, Pāteanui-a-Turi; pātea:

The Heart of Spring Chen Chen (video) 10 mins

Mei is a forty-year old Chinese woman. In her dreams, she always sees an enigmatic female figure wearing old style clothes and playing an Erhu (a Chinese instrument). She goes back to her hometown, a small town in China. The town is largely uninhabited and going to be pulled down in a short period of time. With the help of an old neighbour and a rural doctor, she discovers the meaning of the dream and the answer to her life’s mystery. An enigmatic past is revealed…

The Man with the Beautiful Eyes Jonathan Hodgson (video) 5 mins 40 secs

A gang of kids find a strange house with an overgrown garden where they play. Only once do they meet the man who lives there, a dead-beat alcoholic with a free and easy spirit who welcomes them. The children see him as a romantic character in stark contrast to their neurotically house proud parents.

A collaboration between Animator Jonathan Hodgson and Illustrator Jonny Hannah. Poem by Charles Bukowski

To this Day Shane Koyczan (video) 7 mins 36 mins

To This Day is a project based on a spoken word poem written by Shane Koyczan, to explore the profound and lasting impact that bullying can have on an individual. Animators and motion artists brought their unique styles to 20 second segments that thread into one fluid voice.

Sally Strange-Love (performance) 10 mins

Sally Strange-Love is an enigma – to herself.. Questions of Identity and Reality entangle themselves in blue within and outside of her personal space-time continuum.. Finding herself continuously led by some extreme mystic drive to actualisation, Sally Strange-Love skirts the boundaries between art and psychosis in an attempt to evade hypnotic enslavement to a prescribed consensus reality fraught with pathological normality, obsolete political hierarchy and ongoing systemic atrocity..

Silently Searching Above and Below by Robin Kewell (video) 10 mins

Dream streaming from film-maker Robin Kewell, inspired by the paintings, drawings and visions he has captured in his diaries.

Without Ever Seeing Anything New Emily Lowrey (video) 2 mins 9 secs

The city stampede

streams around stones

armies charging and not one moment left to breathe.

here’s a riddle for you: how can you move so fast, and be standing still?

Sure, numbers might grow

as the clock ticks down low

and what does that even mean, anyway?

what have you got to show

for your daily wars?

Dear Whanau by Simone Kaho 2 mins 24 secs

Simone Kaho is a New Zealand poet with Tongan ancestry. She is well-known as a performance poet, and is a graduate of the IIML at Victoria University. Anahera Press published her book of verse Lucky Punch in August 2016. Simone was born in Auckland in 1978.

Maud by Martin Sercombe (video and performance) 17 mins

Maud is a visionary interpretation of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem of the same name. The poem tells, in first person monologue, the story of a man’s obsessive and unrequited love for a rich lord’s daughter.

“The deconstruction of the words creates a layered and echoing landscape of sound that makes the poem’s intense emotions palpable.. Like the tortured heart of the crazed man, the band of light twists before it turns into an empty shell and dies.”

Lies Holtrop World Wide Video Festival 2000

Sparrow by Welby Ings (video) 15 mins

Sparrow is the beautiful story of a small boy who is teased because he thinks he can fly. When a family myth about his war veteran grandfather is exploded, he discovers the strength to stand up to the school bullies in a very unusual way.


Lyrical Visions III Programme: December 13th 2018

 In Praise of Nothing (Trailer) by Boris Mitic  2018 1 min 28 secs

Landscapes, people, rooms and all manner of trinkets – filmed by 68 film-makers in 70 countries over nearly a decade, with a poetic commentary by Iggy Pop.

Maggie by Shah Mohebbi  2018 4 mins

A disorganised girl longs for a Siberian Husky to help her get her life sorted.

Searching for a Sense of Self by Willow Roke  2018 9 mins

Willow goes on a road trip with her mother to learn about their family’s history.

A Life in Pictures by Julie Lamont  2018 5 mins

Julie interviews her mother about the tragedies she has faced in life.

The Letter I Never Sent by Jade Serran 2018 4 mins

A young woman comes to terms with the end of a relationship.

Bonsai Daughter by Caroline Masters and Jeremy Masters 2018 1 min

A hand made, cut up miniature cinepoem.

This is the Garden by Martin Sercombe 2018 3 mins

A visual response to the e.e.cummings poem, about the cycle of life and death.

If They Ask by Gus Simonovic and Martin Sercombe 2018 3 mins

A video poem about family bonds and concerns for the future.

A New Day Will Come by Jim Carey and Robin Kewell 2006 4 mins 12 secs

This visual and musical collaboration was shot in Loe Bar, Cornwall.

A Petty Morning Crime by Asi Petrov 2015 4 mins

The animation is based on a poem by Georgi Gospodinov of the same title.

Afterlight by Timothy Orme 2013 3 mins

Afterlight is a hand made film drawn in charcoal, that explores both one’s inherent darkness and lightness.

Orpheus by Britta Pollmuller 2018 3 mins

The story of the Orpheus shipwreck, animated using black sand from the beach where the disaster took place.

Crossings by Martin Sercombe 2018 10 mins

An infrared, time lapse portrait of Whatipu set to music by Brigid Ursula Bisley.

As Above, So Below by Kim Gunter 2012 17 mins

A reclusive choral singer with only days to live searches for meaning in the music he loves.

The Joke by Brandi Carlile and Danny Clinch 2018 5 mins

The performers in this music video each have a story to tell in this message of hope “for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal.”


Lyrical Visions IV: Programme

Dec 11th 2019 Titirangi Theatre

10.30 am The Kindergarten Teacher by Maggie Gyllenhaal 2018 90 mins

Writer-director Sarah Colangelo’s sophomore feature film is based on the 2014 Israeli film of the same name. Maggie Gyllenhaal plays a forty-year old married kindergarten teacher living in Staten Island who is terminally bored with her banal middle-class existence. When she becomes convinced that her five-year-old student is a budding poetic genius, she decides to nurture his talents in a reckless and questionable manner.

5.30 pm Teen Toons (free admission) 50 mins

A selection of short poetic animations, made by 6 – 14 year olds at holiday workshops around Auckland.

What’s in the Cellar, Mrs Mellor? by Jessica Ashman

Child Friendly Cities: Studio One Workshop

The Word Circus: Lopdell House Workshop

Tales From the Forest: Lopdell House Workshop

Tales of Te Whau: New Lynn Memorial Library Workshop

Home: New Lynn Memorial Library Workshop

The Present by Jacob Frey

Next Flight Home by Jake Wegesin

Soar by Alyce Tzue

If I Was God by Cordel Barker

7.30 pm In Praise of Nothing by Boris Mitic 2018 78 mins

A satirical documentary parable about Nothing. Researched through 20,000 pages of the most eclectic bibliography ever used in a documentary film, shot over 8 years by 62 cinematographers in 70 countries; scored by cabaret grandmasters Pascal Comelade and the Tiger Lillies; Narrated by Iggy Pop.

Preceded by a Short Film Programme

The Muse by Patricia Pabustan 2019 3 mins

The story of an abstract painting, in which colour, texture and brush strokes take centre stage.

Untime by Zhanlong Deng 2019 3 mins

A day in the life of Auckland city centre, as time runs backwards.

I am an Open Window by Rachel Shearer 2015 5 mins 42 secs

“Beginning in high saturation, I am an open window explores various amplifications of sensation; day passes to night, clouds hang in the sky like unexplained portents, nature brims with potential. A shudder of film in the gate subtly intimates the slippage between one state to another.” Solomon Nagler

Sleeping Alone by Marc Neys 2019 3 mins

Belgian artist Marc Neys’ visual response to a poem by Amy Miller.

The Grass is Greener by Orla McHardy 2010 4 mins 39 secsAn interpretation of a poem by the eccentric Scottish poet, Ivor Cutler.

A Scribe’s Haiku #3 by Kathryn Darnell 2016 2 mins 12 secsThis is part of a series of calligraphic animations of original haikus by the artist about her work as a calligrapher. 

The Royal Oak by Sandra Salter 2013 2 mins 5 secs

A local pub, despite its refit, continues to be a bolt-hole, refuge and home to its regulars. Salter’s animation features a poem by Benedict Newbery.

Known Unto God by Suzie Hanna 2016 3 mins 24 secs

This animated collaboration with NZ poet laureate, Bill Manhire, is one of a series of works that endeavour to understand the incomprehensible; exploring contemporary events while also contemplating the First World War.

Words by Martin Sercombe and Gus Simonovic 9 mins 2019

Two poems by Simonovic challenge our familiar perceptions of the words and objects which surround us. Sercombe undertakes a parallel, visual exploration of a domestic environment, using a macro lens. The electro-acoustic soundtrack by Yota Kobayashi and others builds a rich atmosphere of suggested off screen activity, drawing us into imaginary worlds beyond the camera frame.


Lyrical Visions V: Selections from the Full Programme  

Sonambulo/The Sleepwalker by Theodore Ushev 4 mins 22 secs

Theodore Ushev transforms Romance Sonambulo by Federico García Lorca into a surrealist-inspired exploration of a sleepwalker’s dreams in his short “Sonambulo/The Sleepwalker.” In translating the poem to pictures, Ushev drew heavily upon Joan Miró, for his signature biomorphic forms, geometric shapes, and semi-abstracted objects.

Ice on the Water Charles Olson 5 mins 22 secs (Premiere)

New Zealander Charles Olson animated this song by Lyttelton based composer Mykl O’Dempsey. “I found my own personal interpretation of Mykl’s song, a particular melancholy of a solitary but apparently happy man who loves, or dreams of, ice-skating but is unable to connect with his deeper self.” Charles Olson.

Lost Soul Aiden Wisnewski 3 mins 48 secs (Premiere)

Where do souls go when they’re lost? Naya is pushed to her breaking point as she confronts her anger at her current lifestyle and how lost she feels within adulthood.

Out of Reach (Rain Night) by Pablo Diartinez and Erik Parys. Poem by Jorge Díaz Martínez  8 mins

An experimental narrative film which fuses film language with graphic design, plastic arts and literature. It explores the interior life of a nameless poet wandering the streets of Brussels. Finding shelter from the rain, he reimagines a phone call that never connected, a love that may always have been lost.

Metamorphosis by Marie Craven and Eduardo Yague. Poem by Jean Morris 4 mins 20 secs

The piece was inspired by a famous woodcut print by M.C. Escher, Metamorphosis II (1939-40). Jean’s viewing of the art work seemed to have suggested in her a vision of someone who might be similar to Escher himself. The piece sketches a solitary character fascinated by life’s multiple and varying repetitions, of shapes and spaces, movement and time.

One Sunday in Winter by Martin Sercombe 6 mins (Premiere)

This film poem was inspired by a day trip to Karekare. It tells its story via hand written haikus, digital painting, ambient sounds and treated flute. The film evokes the sudden changes in weather typical of a winter’s day, as the film moves from sunlit calm, across a windswept ocean into rain drenched twilight.

I swallow by Sara Tremlett 4 mins 22 secs (Premiere)

A Dadaist bike ride, swallowing flies and being part of the world’s ecosystem.

Poet: Caleb Parkin

Interval 15 mins

The Whispering Bridge by Martin Sercombe 8 mins HD Video

An evocation of an early summer’s day in Walberswick, Suffolk, told through quiet images and ambient sound. Shot in infrared and sepia toned to evoke memories of Victorian holidays on the English coast. Presented at Lyrical Visions V with a live musical score by Hanna Wiskari (not heard on this version of the video).

A poem for me and you…and you

 by Gus Simonovic and Brierley Millman 3 mins 22 secs HD Video (Premiere)

think grace, flow, perfection, purity, ease …
think of a butterfly that can fly without moving its wings

still … life by Gus Simonovic and Martin Sercombe 4 mins (Premiere)

Gus Simonovic’s poem and performance is a bitter sweet observation of life under the threat of Covid. Martin Sercombe’s camerawork transforms his gestures and expressions into a sequence of painterly tableaux that echo the poem’s sentiments, balanced between fear, foreboding and a reassuring connection with nature.

With music by The Mind Orchestra.

Eye Music by Martin Sercombe 6 mins 27 secs (Premiere)

Eye Music is a digitally hand drawn animation, inspired by the work of early pioneer, Harry Smith, who made extraordinary work by drawing onto clear 35mm film, frame by frame.

It was screened at Lyrical Visions V, Auckland alongside an improvised soundtrack performed by Richard Ingamells, Lucas Kewell and Francis Whall.

Father by Ivan Bogdanov, Moritz Mayerhofer, Asparuh Petrov, Veljko Popovic, Rositsa Raleva and Dmitry Yagodin 16 mins 26 secs

When did you last talk with your father? Will you ever ask him about those things that hurt you? In FATHER the reality of life is turned upside down to create an impossible dialogue – the dialogue between a child and a father that never happens. Father is an animated documentary based on five true stories. It was screened at more than 100 festivals and awarded 26 times.

Lyrical Visions V is brought to you by Martin Sercombe and Robin Kewell with help from SAE Institute, Pumphouse Print and FLICKS@ LOPDELL.

  With many thanks to all those who contributed their works and performed live.