Doco drama we don't need

By Anna Wallis


There aren't many things that are free in life, so the chance to see the documentary How Far is Heaven for nothing is tempting to take up.

Not necessarily because of the quality of the film but to find out what the heck all the fuss was about.

Strange things have been going on around the documentary, which was filmed in Jerusalem on the Whanganui River, part funded by the Wanganui District Council but prohibited from being played commercially in the city.

This may be an international first.

The good people of Feilding can buy a ticket to see it, so can the good people of Palmerston North. However, the good people of Wanganui had to travel to a viewing or be lucky enough to be invited to a private screening at the museum.

Now, however, How Far is Heaven will have six screenings at the museum, open to the general public and free.

The directors of the film said screenings at the museum were organised to let locals see the movie for little or no cost.


The portrayal of the people in Jerusalem, especially the children, has upset people.

The directors' answer to this is to limit the film's exposure.

Far from being culturally sensitive, the decision smacks of being patronising of the people of Wanganui, if not demonstrating cowardice. If you are going to make a documentary and it is offensive, withdraw it completely. If you stand by your work, don't compromise how it is distributed.

Our local cinema needs all the help it can get, and a film made on the Whanganui River could have been very popular.

Apart from being tokenism, the prohibition is just silly in this day and age.

Heaven knows what they will have to do when it comes out on DVD, is shown on TV or hits the internet.


- Wanganui Chronicle

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