Bill Domonkos
Helen Harder

The Poppy
Experimental film

"The Poppy" is a short experimental film inspired by the poetry of Eleanor Sugg. Using a combination of manipulated archive film footage, digital animation and special effects, the film evokes an inner landscape of poetic juxtapositions, exploring themes of identity, isolation, longing and alienation."


Bill Domonkos is an award winning experimental filmmaker and media artist. His work has been broadcast and exhibited internationally in cinemas, film festivals, galleries and museums.

Artist's website:

Helen Harder (a.k.a. Eleanor Sugg) was born in 1918. She was a flight instructor in the Woman's Army Air Corps during WWII. Her other interests included writing poetry, astrology and spirituality. After the war, she raised a son, Arion, as a single mother. She died in 1984.

My experience with the archive was initially very unsettling. I felt as if I had stepped into a stranger's house and started rummaging through their drawers. I was immediately attracted to all the deeply personal poetry Helen (Eleanor Sugg) wrote. Some of the titles were "Melancholia," "The Poppy," "Gloom," "Mediation of a Lonely Heart," "Soliloquy of Despair," "Invocation to Death," and "Madness"- to name a few. As someone attracted to the darker side of human nature, I found Helen's personal, uncompromised poetic voice captivating. - Bill Domonkos

When I matched Bill with Helen Harder (1918-1984), he was struck by the coincidence that his favorite movie, the Russian film “Wings,” is about a woman who – like Helen Harder – was a pilot in WWII and a single mother.  Bill tuned into the rather dark poetry Helen wrote after the war under her real name “Eleanor Sugg,” especially one poem titled The Poppy. His film combines footage from an educational film titled "Who's Right (1954)" from the Prelinger Archives.  Bill says “The name of the actress is unknown, as are most of the faces you see in these public domain archive films.  I love that aspect about using public domain archive footage...the celebrity aspect is so not the point...the actors are mostly nameless celluloid ghosts from the past.”  Helen Harder’s son, Arion Stone, attended the opening reception of the Lineage exhibition and told Bill he really liked the film.  - E.G. Crichton

Link to "The Poppy" video:


Bill Domonkos' single channel video was featured in the National Queer Arts Festival's Chronotopia video program.