Film free for locals: Directors

By Laurel Stowell, Aaron van Delden

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The directors of How Far is Heaven say their film is not being commercially released in Wanganui because they want the community to see it free.

The documentary, filmed in the Whanganui River settlement of Jerusalem and part-funded by the Wanganui District Council, is showing at cinemas throughout New Zealand. But Wanganui's Embassy 3 Cinema has not been allowed to screen it.

The film's directors, Miriam Smith and Chris Pryor, told the Wanganui Chronicle yesterday: "We have the wonderful opportunity to screen the film [at] Whanganui Regional Museum, therefore, enabling people from Whanganui to see [it] for free or koha [donation].

"This has long been our intention, because we feel it is important that people of the Whanganui area, and especially those related to the river, can see the film at little or no cost."

The museum announced yesterday details of six public How Far is Heaven screenings and noted the community may find elements of the documentary challenging. Its directors will attend each showing to introduce and discuss the film.

Those invited to a private screening last weekend had mixed reactions - some upset, some happy.

Whanganui kuia Uru Gardiner saw it on Saturday. She said she didn't like it, especially hearing children swear and a fleeting glimpse of gang members having a party: "It just quenched my spirit right through. I came away feeling quite upset."

She was still thinking about it on Tuesday. "To me, there's more to Jerusalem. I didn't see much wairua [spirit] in it."

Museum director Eric Dorfman said about 50 went to the showing. Afterwards there was a meal, and the film's directors listened to the audience's take on it. A lot of questions were asked about the portrayal of Jerusalem people.

"It was a free and frank discussion on a sensitive issue, and the museum is a safe place for that," Dr Dorfman said.



How Far is Heaven

Venue: Davis Lecture Theatre, Whanganui Regional Museum

Wednesday, November 28, 1.30pm

Wednesday, November 28, 7.30pm

Thursday, November 29, 1.30pm

Thursday, November 29, 7.30pm

Friday, November 30, 1.30pm

Saturday, December 1, 1.30pm

- Wanganui Chronicle

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