Watch "The River" here: https://vimeo.com/246033648
Originally from South Africa, I moved to New Zealand 8 years ago. I have had a long interest in translating the Biblical narratives for screen and this has motivated my move to Invercargill from Taupo to study film.
Invercargill based musician Joanna Buchanan’s song “The River” speaks of forgiveness and a second chance when all seems lost. As a film maker with interests in these themes, I felt it was an opportunity to explore the concept of forgiveness in a broken relationship using an experience which is all too familiar to many New Zealanders.
My approach to creating a narrative for the song was to explore the two sides of the forgiveness: One from the person who committed a wrong against another, and from the perspective of one who was wronged. The scenario involves a young man, Brian who is imprisoned after killing a friend in a reckless driving incident. Having ruined his own life, and the lives of his friend’s family, Brian seeks forgiveness from Frank, his friend’s father. Frank is painfully bitter over his son’s death, and time has not healed his wounds. So, when Brian unexpectedly enters his world again being released from prison, Frank’s bitterness boils over into rage.
Rejected, Brian has no place in the world and is forced to wander. Enraged, Frank stalks Brian and seeks to mete out the justice that he so richly deserves. This scenario or reckless driving deaths referenced in the film is common to New Zealand, but is an experience shared by many across the world, so my goal was to create a classic styling familiar to film audiences which I felt would have a broad audience appeal. In terms of production design, Joanna referenced the film the Shawshank redemption as a visual style she connected with. This period film, along with Southland’s love for motorsports and classic cars informed the setting and the creative choices made in the film and fitly complements Joanna’s mature musical style and thought-provoking song.