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NZIFF: Building Bridges: Bill Youren's Vision of Peace


  • Fri 18 Aug 2023, 5:45pm


All Ages


Listed by

Lisa Feyen

Farmer, family man, and—unlikely leftist organiser. Director John Chrisstoffels has compiled a gentle portrait of an ordinary New Zealand farmer capturing extraordinary changes in global twentieth-century politics.

Bill Youren gave up a career as a lawyer to live a traditional farmer life in the back-blocks of the Hawke’s Bay. He was also a zealous supporter of freedom of speech in a political environment, with the backdrop of the Cold War and the 1951 Waterfront Strike, where anyone labelled a Communist was seen as an existential threat. Youren documented much of his work via his trusty 8mm camera, including his travels around the world and his DIY approach to farming.

Building Bridges: Bill Youren’s Vision of Peace is a fascinating account of a man who firmly supported many of the largest social movements in the twentieth century. The centrepiece of the documentary is Youren’s footage from his trips to China in the 1950s. With each visit, he documents the subtle changes in how China transformed itself from the ruins of World War II and a brutal Civil War, into one of the dominant twenty-first-century superpowers. The documentary also captures his growing disillusionment with the way leftist movements shifted over the course of the century. Director John Chrisstoffels has compiled a gentle portrait of an ordinary man capturing extraordinary things.

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