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Sparrow looks to complete journey

“Sparrow is a distinctive New Zealand story located in the beautiful, yet slightly surreal world of blasted quarries, gravel roads, abandoned psychiatric hospitals and wooden schools. Here, hypnotic and graceful camera movement seduces us into the almost magical realism of the narrative”
          Welby Ings writer/director

Welby Ings is an award winning artist, educator and filmmaker whose unique visual style combines art house sensibilities with a deeply visceral narrative to produce a truly cinematic experience. His previous two shorts, Boy and Munted have been selected in competition in over 50 international film festivals and have won numerous awards, with Boy being long listed for the 2006 Academy Awards.

Welby also has a distinguished career as an educator. He is currently a professor of graphic design at AUT University, and he was awarded the Prime Minister’s inaugural, supreme award for tertiary teaching excellence in 2001. His unique approach to creative creating, dubbed by him as “disobedient thinking” sees him being invited to lecture to audiences around the world.


Welby’s third short film Sparrow is a beautiful, non-spoken 15-minute story set in the 1960’s, and is told from the perspective of Jim, a small boy who believes he can fly. But his life is overshadowed by a story about his grandfather who died a hero in World War 2. But he discovers that the legend that his father so adamantly clings to, is a lie. His grandfather was a gay man who saw the futility of war and deserted in protest when his lover was shot in the dugouts of Egypt. In unravelling the truth behind what happened, Jim discovers strength in his grandfather’s actions and stands up to the bullies at his school in an unexpected way.

Sparrow tells the kind of story that is normally hidden from New Zealand’s grand narratives of war … stories of ordinary men whose experiences and reactions didn’t fit the sanctioned picture of heroic sacrifice. Welby says, “Many such stories still lie hidden in our families and Sparrow is an attempt to bring one of them to the surface. The men who committed suicide, who defied orders, who deserted, or who came back psychologically shattered, have been largely expunged from our history. But these were ordinary men and their stories deserve to be heard and understood as part of the broader reality. There is more to war than poppies and the heroics of sacrifice and films like Sparrow are part of an attempt to make accessible what has been silenced.”

With the help of arts grants, and private investment Sparrow was filmed over a six-day period in May 2016. The epic production involved 79 scenes, 50 cast members, eight locations and is set in the 1940’s & 1960’s.

A crowd funding campaign to assist in the completion of the film, in time to submit to the Berlin Film Festival 2017, will be launched on the Arts Foundation crowd funding platform Boosted on Tuesday 28th June, and will run until Thursday 4th August 2016, and will feature a 90 second teaser for Sparrow.

Informed by his own life and family history, Welby makes films by a unique process he describes as “drawing out” his ideas: there is no storyboard and no script – until he needs something to show funders. “When making films, I create the worlds and stories in pictures, I don’t write scripts. This is because I see film as ‘talking pictures’. So rather than drafts of scripts, I have hundreds of notebooks full of drawings. I want to create a visually rich experience for the audience, thinking in pictures takes you to places that words can’t.”

The making of Sparrow also takes Welby another step closer to the feature film he’s been working on for the past 10 years, Punch. This film takes the character of Jim into adulthood and looks at the challenges he experiences in 1980’s small town New Zealand when he is forced to fight against the dreams of his father and the insistent locals.

Sparrow has been financially supported by:
AUT University
Welby Ings
Wallace Media
Rule Foundation
NZFC talent development fund

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