Issue date: 
Monday, 10 October 2016

Christchurch feature documentary The Art of Recovery has taken top awards at two separate films festivals the US and Europe this past weekend.

The film, directed by Peter Young, opened the New Urbanism Film Festival in Los Angeles where it won 'Best Feature' and the overall 'Best of the Fest' award.

The film also screened at Lund International Architecture Film Festival in Sweden where it won the grand prize of 'Best Documentary'.

The Art of Recovery captures the creative revival of central Christchurch after the devastating 2012 earthquakes and explores the tension between the grass roots transitional movement and central government’s ‘top-down’ approach to rebuilding the city.

The film focuses on a passionate group of artists and entrepreneurs who responded quickly and creatively to the earthquakes, bringing life back to the central city by creating welcoming places for people to be. Among them, Coralie Winn and Ryan Reynolds of Gap Filler, street artist Wongi Wilson and his wife Emma, entrepreneurs Sam Crofsky (C1 café) and Johnny Moore (Smash Palace), guerrilla gardener Liv Worsnop and artist Peter Majendie who created the 185 Empty chairs memorial.

"The stories that came from the transitional period of post-quake Christchurch reveal the power of the human spirit and have resonated strongly with audiences at both these festivals," says Young. "These awards are as much a tribute to those involved in the recovery, as the film itself."

New Urbanism Film Festival director Josh Paget, has seen more than 1,000 films over the past four years he has been running the festival. “This is one of the best movies I’ve seen on urban planning,” said Paget. “The Art of Recovery is about people, calling a place home, and putting a stake in the ground. It’s inspiring no matter what size city you live in."

The award at the Lund festival in Sweden was presented to Young by David Sim, Creative Director of Copenhagen based Gehl Architects. Sim, a renowned architect and urban designer, visited Christchurch several times before and after the earthquakes and described the film as both " unique and universal."

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel said "It's a stunning film and I'm absolutely thrilled that it has received international recognition. Peter Young has told a positive and powerful story that reveals how art was at the heart of what makes a difference to a city undergoing recovery following a disaster.”

After the weekend's success, Young expects the documentary to be picked up by more international film festivals. "Each festival provides a great opportunity to celebrate the qualities of the Christchurch community, and I'll be encouraging people to go and experience it for themselves".

The Art of Recovery premiered at the 2015 New Zealand International Film Festival to a full house at the Isaac Theatre Royal and went on to receive critical acclaim throughout New Zealand. The film was produced by Fisheye Films and made with funding from the Joint Documentary Fund of NZ On Air and the New Zealand Film Commission.

Last updated: 
Monday, 10 October 2016