This Way of Life 52' & 85' by Thomas Burstyn & Barbara Sumner Burstyn


A film about a family. Mum, dad, six kids and 50 wild horses, a beach, a mountain and a burnt down house.

Against the stunning beauty of New Zealand's rugged Ruahine Mountains, Peter Karena and his wife Colleen struggle to instill in their kids the values of independence, courage and happiness. The family has little in the way of material possession but they possess a physicality most of us can only dream of. The children ride bareback as they hunt and play in the wild. Unafraid and untamed, they are supremely confident, as if risk is an alien concept.

Shot over four years, This Way of Life is an intimate portrait of a Maori family and their relationship with nature, adversity, their horses and society at large. The Karenas cultivate the magic in the everyday, turning hardship into a meaningful and satisfying life.  This complete immersion in another way of life reveals that the price of freedom is something that is well worth paying.


Direction: Thomas Burstyn and Barbara Sumner Burstyn

Production: Cloud South Films

Genre: Human Stories

Available versions: English


Film Festival of Bend (United States)
Best Film and Best Documentary
Iowa Indie Film Festival
Best Documentary and Winner People’s Choice
Film Festival of Cabourg (France)
Official Selection
Plus Camerimage Film Festival (Poland)
Official Selection
Heartland Film Festival
Official Selection
Film Festival of Raindance (United Kingdom)
Official Selection
IDA DocuWeek Festival (United States)
Official Selection
Documentary Film Festival of London (UK)
Official Selection
HotDocs Film Festival (Canada)
Official Selection
Big Sky Film Festival (United States)
Best Feature Award
Film Festival of Seattle (United States)
Official Selection
International Film Festival of New Zealand
Official Selection
Wairoa Maori Film Festival (New Zealand)
Best Aoteroa Documentary
Children's Jerusalem Film Festival (Israel)
Official Selection
CineMagic Film Festival (Ireland)
Official Selection
FIFO (Tahiti)
Grand Prix Jury Award
Qantas Film (New Zealand)
Best Director - Best Film (Documentary)
International Film Festival of Berlin (Germany)
Special Mention (Category: Generation)
International Film Festival of Vancouver (Canada)
Official Selection
Palm Springs International Film Festival (United States)
Official Selecton

Screening Room

For professional use only

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