The Art of Recovery: Film Review
Director: Peter Young
With the fifth year since the Christchurch earthquakes just around the corner, it's fair to say the events of what's happened are still rumbling on as much as the emotional and physical aftershocks continue.
Opening with the still numbing scenes of what happened on that fateful day in February 2011, Young's doco clearly is going to be as evocative as it is provocative in places.
Starting off on familiar ground of what people were doing on that day and how it changed, Young sensitively shifts gear into a degree of buoyancy as he looks at how the city's artists are faring in the wake of events. And it's not just the artists in this doco that shine, it's also the innovators as well.
With an attitude of it's an empty glass, so just fill it up, the battler Kiwi attitude is clearly still around, but the politics hinted at in this piece show a growing discord and distance between Government plans via CERA and community desires.
And it's here that doco captures something resplendant - though arguments that these would inevitably be sided with the people are perhaps fair - the growing resilience of Christchurch and the fact it remains a City at odds with what its future could be.
Shots of flowers in traffic cones, of restaurants where burgers fly through tubes like something from The Huduscker Proxy to people simply ecstatically dancing in the outside because they want to, Young pulls a tapestry together of a city looking to reform its identity and the love they have for the city that's endured so much.
It's packed full of healing sentiment, from herbs that grow under the board stating "Herbs that grow here can heal you" to chairs that are painted for people simply because they're there. But there's a danger of the doco bordering on the slightly twee elements around the city; thanks to Young's eye and his fleet of foot direction, nothing is dwelt on for too long and the result is that he ends up throwing a light on a side too rarely explored - that of the people and what they want.
It's perhaps a little too simply explored and people touched upon at a surface level - but it's almost as if it's still too raw in people's minds to be pointing fingers. For that, Young may be vilified - though admittedly it won't be by Christchurch's inhabitants. It does occasionally lack a killer edge but it never loses focus on the city.
There's a clear split between business expectations and art belief, and to document what happens next could perhaps be the true statement of where Christchurch is going, but The Art of Recovery offers up a pleasant enough snapshot of a community in rebuild mode, and captures a moment that needs to be chronicled. The Art of Recovery brings power back to the people, and while it demonstrates a potentially threatening divide between CERA and Chch itself, its sensitively handled and lovingly executed approach means that The Art of Recovery is worth investing your time in.