Italian Director Denied Entry to Complete Karamea Doco

By Aimee van der Weyden

Marco Gianstefani at Kohaihai, Heaphy Track, Karamea (Photo by Paul Murray)

Marco Gianstefani at Kohaihai, Heaphy Track, Karamea (Photo by Paul Murray)

The foreign director of a documentary film about Karamea is unable to return to finish filming because he was deported at Auckland Airport.

Marco Gianstefani from Milan, Italy, spent two months in Karamea in April and May, 2014. He filmed the township and interviewed its people – in particular those involved in the LivingInPeace Project, founded by local man Paul Murray.

Mr Gianstefani had planned to return to Karamea last month to gather more footage and complete the film, Mr Murray said.

He went to Perth to fly to Auckland, but because he hadn’t purchased a return ticket wasn’t able to enter New Zealand. He then bought a return ticket and boarded the flight to Auckland as planned, Mr Murray said.

“That must have set off some kind of a red flag at immigration.”

When Mr Gianstefani landed in Auckland he was sidelined by an immigration official and “interrogated” for five hours.

Mr Gianstefani was tired and English was his second language, so during the interrogation he mistakenly told officers he was a WWOOFer (Willing Worker on Organic Farms). “That was totally the wrong thing to say because of course he didn’t have a working visa,” Mr Murray said.

Marco Gianstefani chose Karamea as the place to make a documentary about sustainable living. (Photo by Margaret Walford)

Marco Gianstefani chose Karamea as the place to make a documentary about sustainable living. (Photo by Margaret Walford)

Immigration then “booted” Mr Gianstefani out of the country.

“He’s now in Melbourne, working on the film and working on promoting the film, waiting to try and get back into New Zealand.”

Mr Gianstefani had hired a lawyer, and he and Mr Murray were seeking help from Buller Mayor Garry Howard and West Coast/Tasman MP Damien O’Connor to try and overcome the immigration barrier.

“It’s a total misunderstanding,” Mr Murray said.

Resident artist

In early 2014, Mr Gianstefani was a guest at Karamea’s Rongo Dinner, Bed & Breakfast, owned by Mr Murray.

Over dinner one night, he told Mr Murray he’d been travelling around the world looking for a place to make a documentary film about sustainable living, Mr Murray said.

Marco Gianstefani on Scott’s Beach, Heapy Track, Karamea. (Photo by Paul Murray)

Marco Gianstefani on Scott’s Beach, Heapy Track, Karamea. (Photo by Paul Murray)

“He found that Karamea was the place he wanted to do that. It was pretty exciting for us.”

Mr Murray invited Mr Gianstefani back as a resident artist and gave him free accommodation at Karamea Farm Baches for two months.

Filming took place around the time of Cyclone Ita – Easter 2014, Mr Murray said.

“He took about 500 hours of footage, interviewing people associated with what we’re doing [the LivingIn Peace Project] and also other local people.”

The Living in Peace Project, which aims to incorporate art, travel, permaculture and education into a sustainable business, had peaked Mr Gianstefani’s interest initially, Mr Murray said.

Mr Gianstefani then discovered how interesting the wider Karamea community was.
“It’s very much about Karamea more than the Living in Peace Project … I guess we’re the main protagonists in the story,” Mr Murray said.

After filming, Mr Gianstefani returned to Milan to start the “enormous process” of turning the footage into an 80-90 minute film.

Marco Gianstefani at the Old Fisherman’s Bach on Scott’s Beach, Heaphy Track, Karamea. (Photo by Paul Murray)

Marco Gianstefani at the Old Fisherman’s Bach on Scott’s Beach, Heaphy Track, Karamea. (Photo by Paul Murray)

Mr Gianstefani had “quite large aspirations” for the film, Mr Murray said. “He has mentioned that he’d like to put it in the Sundance Film Festival.”

Mr Gianstefani was, at one time, the creative director for the largest advertising agency in Italy. “He’s a seriously talented guy,” Mr Murray said.

Not everyone pleased

Karamea dairy farmer Brian Jones was interviewed for the film. Mr Gianstefani asked him questions about his occupation and what he thought of Mr Murray and the LivingIn Peace Project, he said.

He believed the film would have a strong focus on Mr Murray and his enterprise, however, it was hard to know for sure. “I don’t think anyone quite knows what the complete product is yet.”

A few locals would no doubt be “disappointed” with how the film portrayed Karamea, he said.

“We are a fairly diverse community up here … I don’t think you’d ever get 50 per cent of the community to agree on anything.”

The film had the potential to attract more tourism to Karamea, however, it wouldn’t be mainstream tourism, Mr Jones said. The majority of tourists would likely be those seeking/living an alternate lifestyle.

– Westport News

Link to “Karamea” Movie Trailer:
KARAMEA – Is this the end of the road?

Link to LivingInPeace Project Video:
The LivingInPeace Project
Living In Peace Project Logo

Karamea - the Movie

by Marco Gianstefani

A bunch of modern-hippies changing the world from one of the remotest places on earth. Support us from March 15th!!

There aren’t a lot of reasons to go there: either you are a travel-blog nerd and you stumbled upon one of the few posts about it, or you’re a serious adventure walker with the will to walk the “Heaphy track”, a gorgeous scenic 4-day hiking trail with no shelter that ends up (or starts) in Karamea.

Karamea pops up, literally, “at the end of the road”. It’s precisely 100 kilometres from the nearest town, but is an island of community surrounded by a beautiful, green and lush national park.

So, do people really live here? Absolutely. And this is exactly where things get interesting.

As the documentary trailer for Karamea says, “Answers sometimes may be found where least expected”.

The Karamea documentary movie follows the inspiring journey of a bunch of modern-hippies that have made this community their home, attempting to “change the world” from one of the most remote places on earth. They might be far away from mainstream civilisation, but this community is tightly knit and passionate about living the way they choose to.

As we meet Karamea’s people, we realise that they’ve managed to live… a little bit differently from the way most of us do.

Instead of just talking about problems, how the world is drifting away or the social theories and ecological systems to save it, they are putting in practice an actual process toward sustainability where everybody takes their part in this “there is another way to live” project.

This is not a community of old-fashioned hippies, and there are no communal rules that impose how to live and behave with others. Instead, there is private property, and a economic system based on exchange or barter (either it’s food or work) to cover the majority of people’s needs. With fewer places to use it, money is spent wisely and less frequently, leaving no room for conspicuous consumerism.

The pillars of the Karamea lifestyle are also renewable energies, organic agriculture and permaculture design; but it isn’t just about solar power, water supply tanks or “growing your own tomatoes”.

It is simply a philosophy of “quality over quantity” that the people of Karamea practice in every aspect, following the sustainable living playbook their own way. And the results are staggering: prosperity, community, success, and that elusive goal of people in the modern world, happiness.

Karamea becomes a sort of social, economic and ecological experiment where people can touch what really means to live sustainably. It is such a compelling place that travellers who plan to pass through for a night end up staying for months or years, getting involved in the unpredictable vitality of the town.

This other way to live comes to life through the stories of those that created and are living this dream in Karamea: Is this the end of the road?In 2014, Marco Gianstefani and his crew shot the first part of the documentary, collecting content for a first trailer release and a future crowdfunding campaign that will be launched in early 2016.

To share this story with the world, the team is fundraising to complete the shooting and post-production process, and to create the original score so that Karamea can be presented in major international documentary festivals. By telling this fascinating story, we hope to show that the real sustainable living of Karamea is far from the end of the road; it is just the beginning of it.

Marco Gianstefani

An Italian Filmmaker who aims to find uniqueness around the world and tell it to everybody is keen to discover new stories.