This Way of Life
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This Way of Life

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  • Directed by: Thomas Burstyn
  • Produced by: Barbara Sumner-Burstyn
Released: 2010
Running Time: 84 min

Against the stunning beauty of New Zealand's rugged Ruahine Mountains, Peter Karena and his wife Colleen raise their six children on the thin edge between freedom and disaster. As Peter hunts, trains wild horses, and struggles to instill in his kids the values of independence, courage and happiness (not to mention good hair), his escalating struggle with his own father has profound consequences on the entire Karena clan. Filmed over the course of four years, THIS WAY OF LIFE captures the Karena's precipitous existence with equal parts glorious abandon and painful suspense. Trying to carve out a different type of life for himself, Peter often seems like a man out of step with this century—he can tame a wild horse, or field dress a deer, but he can't find a home for his family—but ultimately, this complete immersion in another way of life reveals that the price of freedom is something that is well worth paying.


  • Shortlist 2010 Academy Awards
  • Winner, Best Feature Film,Big Sky Documentary Film Festival
  • Winner Jury Prize Berlin International Film Festival
  • Winner Qantas Best Documentary, 2010
  • Winner Special Jury Award FIFO
  • Winner Youth Jury prize Ânûû-rû âboro
  • Winner Audience Award, Wairoa Maori Film Festival 2010


“A collision of realities—earthly nature vs. human nature—lies at the very big heart of This Way of Life, catapulting this Kiwi-made story of a Maori family beyond mere portraiture and into a realm of metaphysics, melancholia and cosmic doubt: At the ends of the Earth, in a virtual Eden, is it possible for a family to live without petty grudges, anger, violence and authoritarian rule?”
— John Anderson, Variety Magazine

“Will stun you with its subtlety, honesty and heart”
— Darren Bevan, TVNZ

“Quietly profond, deeply poetic”
— Sunday Star Times

"Hotly tipped for an Oscar nomination”
— Raindance Film Festival

“Resonant and stunningly shot”
— John Hopewell, Variety Magazine