The Lie of the Land (concept trailer)


The Lie of the Land is a two-part multidisciplinary project currently in development, comprised as a sculptural installation with multiple projections, and secondly, as a moving image work suitable for single projection in galleries or cinema.

Inspired by Michael Henderson's award-winning short story, The Dead Bush, The Lie of The Land describes a farmer’s dystopian battle against an unforgiving landscape. A central theme is the protagonist’s interminable struggle to access the water found in the nutrient rich caves under the mountain, which he needs to save his drought-ridden stock. The hard gritty reality of the farmer’s life on his drought ridden farm is juxtaposed with the watery, surrealist, inner world of his wife, a fugue-like spectral character, whose story -  in contrast to that of her husband’s - appears as one of transformation.

As an installation, The Lie of the Land makes use of multiple projection surfaces sited in a constructed environment, consisting of suspended window frames, a tray of water on the floor, and two large screens which display vignettes from the films, intended to mimic aspects of the visual content of the film. The vignettes provide a more heavily abstracted and abridged version of the film. An original score made for the installation includes narration and dialogue between central protagonists.

The Lie of the Land is the second in a series of four moving image works, under the project title Ō Ratou Tāonga Katoa, or "all our treasures", a reference to a clause in the Treaty of Waitangi.

Ō Ratou Tāonga Katoa explores different aspects of the historical, social, and multicultural tensions at play within our connection to place and the fabric of our collective identity. 

Hau (2016) was the first work in this series and was made in response to the Christchurch earthquakes. Hau speaks to themes of place and belonging. It is an aspirational piece, affirming the renewal of our identity as a city and calling for the shaping of a more inclusive community, through a more healthily integrated relationship to our history and forebears. Following on from this promise, The Lie of The Land looks at our desire to control our environment, and the behaviors we adopt to achieve this. The work addresses contemporary issues facing rural communities, such as the dangerous psychological effects of isolation farming families can face, and the relentless threat of drought. However, as with Hau, these tensions are softened, with a message of futural hope expressed through the transformation of the child.”

- Artist Statement


Concept and Direction: Kate Belton
Script: Ben Brown and Kate Belton
First and Second Cameras: Kirk Pflaum and Jess Charlton
Photography: Michaela Cox
Post Production Editors: Emma Smart and Kate Belton
Sound Arrangement: Hamish Oliver and Kate Belton
Musicians: Helen Greenfield, Emma Johnston, Mahina Kaui and Ariana Tikao
With Otto Bauchop, Scott Flannagan, Annette Neutze, Tjalling de Vries, Gretchen McKinley and Lily.
Adapted from Michael Henderson’s short story The Dead Bush.