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Film about activist Hawke’s Bay farmer premieres

Film about activist Hawke’s Bay farmer premieres in Napier next Wednesday

Thursday 13 October 2016

At the height of the Cold War, freethinking Hawke’s Bay farmer Bill Youren (1910-1983) was working to break down the barriers preventing peace and understanding between the New Zealand and Chinese people.

The film Visions of Peace, which premieres at the MTG Century Theatre next Wednesday 19 October, is his remarkable story, told using Youren’s own movie footage shot in Communist China.

It was made by the University of Canterbury Documentary Film Unit, with support from the University of Waikato, and the Royal Society Marsden Fund. Visions of Peace tells of Youren’s visits to China in the years after the communist revolution in 1949, and his attempts to promote understanding between New Zealand and the People’s Republic of China.

Because Youren was an accomplished amateur filmmaker, much of the story is told through his own film footage, as well as through interviews with people who knew him. Director John Chrisstoffels from the University of Canterbury worked through dozens of hours of rare footage of 1950s China and New Zealand to create a fascinating documentary about this tireless campaigner for world peace, nuclear disarmament and social justice. In China, Youren witnessed key events in the history of the foundation of the People’s Republic. Back in New Zealand he gave public talks, published his writings, and organised exhibitions of his Chinese art collection to present an alternative image of China to that offered by government and the mainstream press.

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The premiere coincides with the exhibition Bringing China Home, curated by James Beattie and Richard Bullen, which features many objects from the Youren’s Chinese art collection. It runs until June 2017.

What: Visions of Peace, directed, written and produced by John Chrisstoffels (University of Canterbury), written and produced by Chrisstoffels, Richard Bullen, Paul Millar (UC), and James Beattie (University of Waikato). Duration 50 minutes


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