The Art of Recovery Film Review

Film Review by Jarred Tito

The Premise
New Zealand documentary celebrating the community of innovators, artists and entrepreneurs rebuilding Christchurch after the devastating earthquakes.Through the demolition and the rubble, they seek to shape the city into a domain of creativity and hope for the future.

The Review
I found myself being drawn further and further into this film as I witnessed a relatively small group of passionate Cantabrians intent on recreating the central business district of Christchurch in a way that was both meaningful and charming. Their stories were captured and presented in a very pure and natural state which resulted in making this film rather endearing.

When we hear the word recovery in reference to a city that has suffered a major catastrophe we can easily let our thoughts drift towards the prospect of buildings and infrastructures being repaired or rebuilt. We may not immediately consider the people behind the projects and the emotional process which they go through. This film does just that. It takes us to the various 'transitional' city projects (both official and unofficial) to see how and what they are, but then takes us behind the projects to meet the people. The artist, poets, visionaries and such like, to find out how they managed to get each project up and running and more importantly, why they felt it was important not just for themselves but the cityĆ¢€™s people as a whole.   

The Art of Recovery is a set of stories about individuals, groups and organizations involved in various projects and initiatives in and about Christchurch's central business district as they collectively help to transition the old broken earth shaken city into the new. But unlike so many documentaries made here in New Zealand which often short track their films to reach a quick and often predetermined outcome, this one is filmed over four years during the 'gap years' of Christchurch and tells the real stories as they unfold. I really do tip my hat to Peter Young for maintaining the integrity of this style of coverage which was very insightful and informative. 

I found myself laughing during many parts of film. Laughing at some of the entrepreneurial creations like the portable motorbike bar and grill. Then, on occasion, I felt a little emotional. Particularly at artist Peter Majendie's '185 Empty Chairs' which represent those lives lost in the earthquake and are visited by mourners. And still at other times I felt quite annoyed at how the government seemed to be completely oblivious to the voice and needs of the people of Christchurch. Choosing only to view Christchurch as a 'economy' and not a home.

The Verdict
I was delighted with this film and would highly recommend it to anyone. It took me on a much needed journey through a time in Christchurch's history which has proven to be not just a dark period in her life, but also a time in which we can celebrate the human spirit as well as explore the awakening of a post quake artistic revival.

The Trailer

The Info
Releases: 5th November 2015
Rating: PG
Duration: 85 minutes 
Genre:  Documentary
Starring: Wongi Wilson, Emma Wilson, Coralie Winn, Ryan Reynolds, Johnny Moore, Sam Crofskey
Director: Peter Young (The Last Ocean)