07 March, 2014

How Far is Heaven (DVD) [Suneeta, Highland Park Library]

“Past the world, past the earth, right up there, keep going, keep going, keep going, all the way up there…”

This is 14-year-old D.J.’s hypothesis of heaven’s distance from the earth, in the charming New Zealand film by Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith set in the idyllic village of Jerusalam Hiruharama on the river Whanganui. 

An observational documentary, it centres around the Sisters of Compassion congregation that was founded here in 1892 and which is represented by just three remaining sisters today. These nuns are not missionaries; they simply live and work alongside the community, and through their compassion have a gentle yet profound effect on its people. A special focus is on the newest “recruit” sister Margaret Mary, a volunteer teacher at the local school and on a selection of children. 

Smith and Pryor lived a year in the community to make the film and they have portrayed with grace and subtlety the unique relationship between two traditions, one of them Maori and the other Christian, that have blended to enrich the whole - a world of the Taniwha and of nativity plays. Also very easy on the eye for the natural beauty of the surroundings, this doco offers a  unique slice of life in a very special place.

I recommend it to all of us who live in Aotearoa/New Zealand.

Title: How Far is Heaven (DVD) 
Directors: Christopher Pryor & Miriam Smith
Producer: Miriam Smith
Year: 2013
Distributed by: Deer Heart Films

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