Ever The Land NZIFF Review

Filmmaker and Director Sarah Grohnert and Alex Behse Producer held the worldwide premiere of their film Ever The Land  Three years in the making, Ever The Land explores and captures the bond between people and their land as it follows the design and construction of Ngai Tuhoe’s landmark architectural undertaking Te Uru Taumatua.  

With subject matter so full of hope, history, strength and determination, it was imperative that the director create a fly on the wall style production given her ‘outsider’ status. Initial concerns about the German director being a distraction to the architectural project were quickly dismissed, with a warm, friendly and charismatic cast being captured in a strictly indirect yet natural manner.

The film represents the importance of the land to the Tuhoe people, with rigorous guidelines set for the ‘Living Building’, which essentially became an extension of the environment; in relation to the people and the misty, ominous and stunning terrain.

We witness some cheery and funny interactions between the architectural firm, the local ring-ins keen to be involved, and the building crew during the mammoth building process. These interactions provide some heart warming and spontaneously funny moments. These do come as some light relief and are what carries the film through some of the longer shots where some patience is required from the audience.

I’m sure there was a fair amount of stress along the way, but this is only shown in a few moments, with the film choosing instead to focus on the Tuhoe people rather than the concerns of the company set with controlling the task. When the moments of stress do show they’re greeted with chuckles from the audience rather than trepidation. A feeling of positivity shines through from all the torment of the past, and as the mist clears, the project heads towards success.

The emotional history of the Tuhoe people, incredible beauty of Te Urewera, and world-first architecture all combine in Ever The Land to tell this unique story.

Reviewed by Mat Campbell

Photo credit: Ana Dermer

3 stars