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, Canadian cinematographer Tom Burstyn's rigorously beautiful debut documentary 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. As Peter and Colleen set up a series of makeshift squats (a camp beside a river or a shed) their brood of half-wild kids ride bareback in the surf, with little fear, and often little clothes. Tragedy does not spare the Karenas--a near-disaster on a mountain trek, or scenes of small children getting bucked off galloping horses drive home the point that a certain level of risk, once taken for granted, now seems like it belongs to another century entirely. But ultimately, this complete immersion in another way of life reveals that the price of freedom is something that is well worth paying.
Producer, Barbara Sumner Burstyn