Director and DOP Tom Burstyn and producer Barbara Sumner Burstyn’s documentary This Way of Life (TWOL), from Cloud South Films, was one of the ten most popular films at the Vancouver International Film Festival. More than 300 films screened at the festival, which finished earlier this month.
Festival Director Alan Franey said, “The Canadian premiere of this gem from New Zealand averaged an amazing 4.73 out of five in extensive public voting.”
The film, which screened earlier this year at the NZ International Film Festival, captures a way of life and a consciousness that has almost disappeared, a life where self-sufficiency is central, where time is not money.
Set against the Ruahine Ranges and Hawkes Bay beaches, the film is an intimate portrait of the Karena family and their relationship to nature, adversity, their horses and society at large.
Barbara made the trip to Vancouver to attend the festival and made a sale for the documentary to British Columbia’s Knowledge Network, as well as doing a deal with the same network for Cloud South’s next project.
TWOL has been submitted to a couple of other festivals, and Barbara and Tom are waiting to hear. It’s heading towards release here, possibly in late summer, with a theatrical distribution deal close to completion. Barbara believes it will be the first self-funded NZ documentary to achieve a general release.
DVD release will be either through self-distribution or a hybrid deal. Cloud South has previously self-distributed with good success.
And what of the other deal done in Canada? Leonard’s Lovers is an idea that’s been on the back burner for several years, dating back to when Tom and Barbara lived in Canada. It will tell the stories of middle-aged women who, in their younger days, shagged Canadian singer Leonard Cohen.
Back in the day, Cohen was apparently no slouch, as album titles such as Death of a Ladies’ Man (1977, with Phil Spector), Various Positions (1984) and I’m Your Man (1988) might suggest.
The deal with Knowledge Network requires the film to go on air within 18 months, so it will be considerably quicker project than This Way of Life, which took 5 years. Cohen is now 75, so getting on with it might not be a bad idea.