Way of life applauded
Hawkes Bay couple Tom and Barbara Burstyn’s documentary This Way of Life about a Maori family living a subsistence lifestyle has screened at the Berlin Film Festival to full houses and a Jury award. This Way of Life tells the story of Peter and Colleen Karena who moved from Omahu two years ago when their home was destroyed by fire. The couple, both in their early 30s, moved their homeless family and horses to a small homestead near the Tukituki River on the Havelock North-Waimarama Road. Shot over four years against a background of the Ruahine Range and Waimarama beach, the film is about a family of six children and 50 horses living on the thin edge between freedom and economic disaster. During the four years of filming, the family’s home burnt down, horses were stolen and they lost a baby. The Berlin Festival programme describes the independent film as a story of family life in New Zealand. “Except that this is no ordinary family,” the festival publicity blurb reads. “It’s almost as if the word ‘risk’ does not exist for them: barefoot, bareback and without reins or riding hat is for instance the way the family’s daughter (Aurora) gallops across the New Zealand prairie. “Some people may think that the Karenas live a life of poverty. But this isn’t true. This Way of Life is a film about freedom.” The Burstyns are now working on a new collaboration at their Cloud South Films shingle, Yolanda’s Last Portrait. A theatrical docu feature, Portrait focuses on an aging artist in her crumbling mansion in St John’s Wood in London. This Way of Life opens nationwide on March 11.