This Way of Life
At the ends of the Earth, in a virtual Eden, is it possible for a family to live without petty grudges, anger, violence and authoritarian rule?1 Canadian-born, New Zealand filmmaker Thomas Burstyn (with over 30 feature, 50 television, and 15 awards to his credit) took 4-‐1/2 years to shoot this outstanding documentary of the Karena family with his writer/producer wife Barbara Sumner Burstyn with no money, one camera, one tripod, and one microphone.
At the heart of this amazingly well-‐crafted intimate portrait: What is it to be a loving family? What does it cost to choose an alternative to a consumerist lifestyle? What is it to get closer to nature? What are the costs and benefits of a freer life?
The Karenas live outside the traditional world of consumerism—their’s is a story of strength, independence, determination, of a simple life close to nature and full of nurture, respect for life and joy of being. Gorgeously shot and skillfully told, this thought-provoking documentary raises questions about lifestyle choices and commitments. Peter Karena, his wife Colleen, their six children and many horses live almost wild in the stunning beauty of New Zealand's rugged Ruahine Mountains after Peter's ongoing battle with his father results in the family being burned out of their home and Peter left struggling to find alternate means to sustain his family.
While the Karenas have no real material wealth what they do have is a unique lifestyle that brings them close to nature and to each other.
“While the parents suffer from the pressures of family and the society, the kids live a happy existence close to nature and close to one another. The Burstyns choose the right family and story to tell how much we've lost over the past century -- a direct connection with nature.”
In this captivating, visually ravishing documentary, we watch Peter and Colleen over an eventful four years as they do whatever it takes to provide emotional security and a life in harmony with nature for their children. From being burned out of their ancestral home, to living like gypsies in a beach camp, to finding Peter’s horses stolen, to inhabiting a large barren shed, to finally finding a new home, the Karenas delve into their hopes and fears for their family, their intense commitment to their children, and their belief that children should be reared with respect and challenges.
“I treat my children the way I would like to have been raised,” says Peter.
Regardless of their hardships, the Karenas manage to never lose sight of the magic in the everyday and the magic in their children. Decimated over the loss of one still-born child, Peter cries when he relates how his newest born taught him already so much about life and love. The Ottley-Karena children figure prominently in the film. Eleven-year-old Llewelyn ventures out with his father to hunt and prepare the wild game that comprises their meat supply. All the children ride bare and bareback, the wind whipping their long hair. Watching seven-year-old Aurora expertly ride a massive stallion bareback with no more than a rope halter asks us to reexamine our ideas of what children are capable of.
According to the Burstyns: We always wanted to make a film of true intimacy, using the remarkable medium of film to craft a tale that is satisfying on a human level, in the way that a blockbuster can never be. We wanted to engage head and heart, and do it with great gentleness, so that the sense of this one family's values could percolate into our everyday lives.5 This Way of Life is a remarkable story of resilience and courage, a story that asks audiences to seek meaning in their own lives.
On each of its three Berlin screenings, This Way of Life sold out a 1000-seat theatre and won runner-up jury prize; there were five sold out screenings at the New Zealand International Film Festival; it was chosen for official selection at the Palm Springs International Festival, which sold out a week before showing; it screened to sell out houses Vancouver International Film Festival; at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Montana, captured the Best Feature Prize; screened on Maori TV as one of their highest rating Sunday features; won the peoples choice awards at the Iowa Independent Film Festival.
A Cloud South Films presentation. Produced by Barbara Sumner Burstyn. Directed by Thomas Burstyn. Written by Barbara Sumner Burstyn. With: Peter Ottley Karena, Colleen Ottley Karena, Llewelyn Ottley Karena, Aurora Ottley Karena, Malachi Ottley Karena, Elias Ottley Karena, Corban Ottley Karena, Salem Ottley Karena, Coco. Camera, Thomas Burstyn; editor, Cushla Dillon; music, Joel Haines; sound, Claude Chevalier; sound designer, Benoit Dame, Catherine Van Der Donckt.
Thank you for your contribution.Flag this as inappropriate
- Follow jpuente