Oh hi there
Oh hi there
The NZFF was a whirlwind, there were so many fantastic films to see and simply not enough time (or money) to make it to them all. Luckily, more than a few are now popping up in cinemas. One of these is How Far is Heaven, a documentary about the community of Jerusalem on the banks of the Whanganui River. Specifically, the film documents the life and work of the Sisters of Compassion, a group of nuns who have been living on this spot for 120 years. The filmmakers, Miriam Smith and Chris Pryor, spent a year in Jerusalem while making this film, we managed to nab them for a quick Oh hi there..
MIriam: my day job is currently working on the follow through of How Far is Heaven but I’m also writing / developing other film projects I love.
Chris: my day job is filmmaking, and one of the best things about filmmaking is that it combines such a variety of jobs in one.
2. If we gave you the day off tomorrow, what would you do?
Miriam: Try to make a good fruitcake and then take it to eat with Sister Anna Maria (the 94-year-old star in our film), who is always the most delightful company and a real fruitcake appreciator.
Chris: I’d like to go and have a breakfast that contains bacon as one of its key ingredients and then go for a long long walk on a long long beach.
3. Who makes the best coffee in Auckland?
Jayrin Dixon at Millers Refreshment Room on Cross Street
4. What’s the best thing you’ve ever eaten in this city?
Miriam: To celebrate getting funding to complete the film, Chris and I ate at the Sunday Painters on Ponsonby Road - everything was amazingly delicious and the waiters spun excellent vinyl.
Chris: The sweets and savory treats at the bake sale at the Serbian Orthodox Church in Pt Chev on the first Saturday of every month - get in early, many are catching on.
5. Pick a book and park you’d like to read it in, anywhere.
Miriam: The Grass Harp by Truman Capote in Shinjuku Gyoen park, Tokyo.
Chris: The Rings of Saturn by W. G. Sebald at North Head, Devonport.
6. What’s your most memorable moment from your time spent filming ‘How Far is Heaven’?
Miriam: hearing Chevy sing for the first time (another star of the film). Because she was shy about it she wouldn’t let us look at her, so with our backs turned and our eyes staring up at the sky we waited... suddenly her stunning voice burst out and completely amazed us.
Chris: summer swims in the Whanganui River with the Sisters and most of the village.
7. What three films have you seen that you think have influenced your own work the most?
To Be & To Have - this masterful observational documentary showed me a new and quietly powerful mode of documentary filmmaking.
Brief Encounter - perfectly told and timeless.
Vagabond - a deeply moving cinema-verite film with many breathtaking moments of spontaneity and truth.
Illustrious Energy - I barely remember it, I must have been 12 at the time, but it was Leon Narby’s feature that made me realize that films needn’t be just about surface entertainment.
Sans Soleil by Chris Marker - fabricated truth!
Werckmeister Harmonies by Bela Tarr - single, masterful shots, running uncut for 10 minutes at a time would influence anybody in someway or other.
You can catch How Far is Heaven in cinemas from the 23rd of August. It's playing at the Bridgeway, Rialto Newmarket, Monterey, Matakana and Waiheke cinemas. Don't miss it!
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