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How Far is Heaven

1h 39m Documentary 2012

Directed by :
Christopher Pryor and Miriam Smith

Following the path of the seasons across a year, this film shows the lives of a group of elderly nuns in the remote town. The Sisters of Compassion have lived in the remote village of Jerusalem/Hiruharama on the Whanganui River in New Zealand for 120 years. Today, only three nuns remain.

Over the course of a year, the film follows the journey of Sister Margaret Mary, the newest Sister to Jerusalem and a regular volunteer at the local school. The local children’s’ humour and unique view of the world is brilliantly evoked through the intimate, observational filming style.

This is a world of opposing forces: Maori vs Christian spirituality; gang parties vs. prayer; pig hunting vs. perfume appreciation. Yet the Sisters’ compassion engages with the Maori traditions and together they make up a community to help each other navigate life’s heartbreak and joy.

How Far Is Heaven screened at the 2012 New Zealand International Film Festival, and won Best Documentary Cinematography at the 2012 New Zealand Film Awards.


Rachel Shearer


Miriam Smith




New Zealand


Deer Heart Films

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