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River of Freedom

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River of Freedom: The true account of the 2022 freedom protests in New Zealand

Some sixteen months after the peaceful assembly of people from all areas of New Zealand was brutally invaded and dispersed by henchmen of the political State, an extraordinary documentary film has emerged: River of Freedom’.

River of Freedom is a documentary being shown in cinemas across New Zealand sharing the inside story of the New Zealand Convoy and Parliament protests in February and March 2022 – who the people were, why they were there, and what happened!  Fed up with covid restrictions and vaccine mandates, thousands of people convoyed to Wellington from all around the country, demanding change and expecting democratic representation.

Dr. Emanuel Garcia was one of those who gathered on the grounds of Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, as convoys snaking across the north and south islands converged on a sunny 9 February 2022.  “[Most of us] knew that mainstream media coverage of the convoy, the gathering and whatever unfolded in the time ahead would be slanderous and untruthful. As indeed it was,” he said.

Dr. Garcia is a Philadelphia-born psychoanalyst, psychiatrist and author who emigrated to New Zealand in 2006. He retired from psychiatric practice in 2021, refusing to be inoculated, after working in the public sector in New Zealand.

When he attended the premiere of River of Freedom on 7 September, he was transported back to “that relatively brief but powerful time when the citizenry reclaimed their rights, stood their ground and created, in microcosm, a society of mutual sustenance.”

“Watching the images of the multitudes who had the audacity to oppose the government’s demolition of fundamental human rights and its imposition of divisive and, frankly, illegal mandates, I was reminded of the many kindly and generous people I met, the determination to assert our unalienable rights, our requests for someone – anyone – from the elected body of Parliament simply to meet with us and to discuss our concerns, and the monolithic refusal of our politicians to engage,” he said.

He remembered the day when victims of the mandated injection were memorialised by a string of white crosses hung across the stage and felt honoured to have been able to say a few words on their behalf.

“As the days and weeks wore on and the government’s frustration with a strong and peaceful presence grew, police actions became more aggressive and attempts to undermine our ability to continue residence became bolder. And all of this occurred during a period when a ‘vax apartheid’ state had been declared and those of us who were unjabbed were not permitted access to restaurants, churches, theatres, barbers, cinemas or gyms,” he said.

River of Freedom, Deluge of Truth

a powerful documentary about the 2022 New Zealand protests against mandates

I am certain that most of us who had gathered on the grounds of Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand, as convoys snaking across the north and south islands converged on a sunny 9 February 2022, knew that mainstream media coverage of the convoy, the gathering and whatever unfolded in the time ahead would be slanderous and untruthful. As indeed it was.

Truth, however, like a river meander, proves unstoppable over time.

Some sixteen months after the peaceful assembly of people from all areas of our country was brutally invaded and dispersed by henchmen of the political State, an extraordinary documentary film has emerged: River of Freedom.

I attended the sold-out Wellington premiere on 7 September at the Embassy Theatre and was myself transported to that relatively brief but powerful time when the citizenry reclaimed their rights, stood their ground and created, in microcosm, a society of mutual sustenance — an ideal, as it were, founded upon by charity, compassion and tolerance, and united, despite considerable diversity.

Watching the images of the multitudes who had the audacity to oppose the government’s demolition of fundamental human rights and its imposition of divisive and, frankly, illegal mandates, I was reminded of the many kindly and generous people I met, the determination to assert our unalienable rights, our requests for someone — anyone — from the elected body of Parliament simply to meet with us and to discuss our concerns, and the monolithic refusal of our politicians to engage.

I was reminded too of the creative joys that emerged from the occupants of Parliament’s terrain as we waited for a ‘representative’ to do his or her duty, such as the makeshift basketball court where I spent many an hour while on my daily rounds, the tents where music poured forth, and the meals supplied for free to all and sundry.

On one particular evening as I wound my way around, I was stopped in my tracks by a live rendition of the song I had been yearning to hear for weeks: Tom Petty’s ‘I Won’t Back Down’.

I remember too the day when victims of the mandated Jab were memorialized by a string of white crosses hung across our stage. I was honored to have said a few words on their behalf.

As the days and weeks wore on and the government’s frustration with a strong and peaceful presence grew, police actions became more aggressive and attempts to undermine our ability to continue residence became bolder. And all of this occurred during a period when a ‘vax apartheid’ state had been declared and those of us who were unjabbed were not permitted access to restaurants, churches, theatres, barbers, cinemas or gyms …

On the first of March 2022 I was part of a team that had been assembled to negotiate a peaceable solution to a situation that had become very tense. A member of the police force was slated to join, but this representative never appeared. On my way home that afternoon I happened to notice that the street next to Wellington’s main police station was filled with unmarked vans. I concluded that the police would stage a raid the next morning and I informed everyone I knew — filmmakers, protest leaders, media personnel and the like. Most — not all — told me that my fears were unfounded. They were wrong.

Fortunately the filmmakers of River of Freedom were there to record the fascistic thuggery that took place on 2 March, which included the use of tear gas and 40 mm rubber bullets against peaceful citizens. An elderly man had his hip broken thanks to a police assault and the first ambulance called to assist refused to take him to hospital.

Such were the memories that crowded upon me as I viewed River of Freedom, as I watched a brilliant and beautifully shot and viscerally moving documentary bring us a ‘real news’ account of what happened.

At my barber’s the other day I chanced to mention the Parliament protests — he cuts hair within a stone’s throw of the area — and I could tell by his reaction that his view of the event was the one promulgated by Radio New Zealand and the Dominion Post and the State-funded TV stations and other organs of propaganda — that a bunch of dirty low-lifes had conspired to make unnecessary trouble. I suggested he see River of Freedom; whether he will or not is another matter.

I understand that cinemas around the country, cinemas in towns large and small, have been booked out for showings of the film and that plans are underway to make the documentary available to an international audience.

Director Gaylene Barnes, producers Jared Connon and Julian Arahanga, cinematographer Mark Lapwood, and the entirety of the team deserve to be commended for presenting a genuine history of one of New Zealand’s most significant political and social events — for correcting the record, for countering falsehood and for inspiring those of us who have fought for our rights to continue our fight.

Make no mistake: that coming together in early 2022 had consequences felt within the corridors of political power. We served them notice, with peace, dignity and strength.

And if they think they can pull another fast one, they should think again. We are better prepared.

Emanuel E. Garcia, M.D.

September 2023

9 COMMENTS

  1. Got the following from the director of the film

    Congratulations everyone, the weekly box office results are in … and River of Freedom has squeaked into the TOP 10 at #10!! 🚀 This result is extraordinary because of the limited number of cinema screens available to us in our first week of release, we started out with only 9 cinemas in the weekend showing our film.

    But wait, there’s more! We were FOURTH – #4 – in the box office in terms of screen averages! We doubled Barbie, and tripled Oppenheimer. 🙂

    Plus, we’re definitely the #1 New Zealand film on right now!

    This is great news. 🤔 Why does this matter? ❤️ They cannot ignore us. It keeps us in the cinemas and enables the film to reach the wider audience that needs to see it. Please take your family and friends! Our story will not be forgotten.

    Over this week, our audience has increased, and so has the number of cinemas wanting to come on board with us. We now have 34 cinemas across the country wanting to show River of Freedom.

    Unfortunately, we have been unable to access certain cities and locations, and are working on this. Please be patient. We also have not been reviewed or acknowledged by the usual media platforms, so are grateful for the media platforms that have been prepared to review River of Freedom. Thank you! Please see our website for these reviews!

    I also want to thank our amazing small distribution and marketing team who have been working tirelessly to make this happen. Most of us are currently working outside our usual roles! Our friendly Cinema Distribution Coordinator, Heidi Watson, is bringing her LOTR transport management skills to a challenging job coraling cinemas. Heidi was there from the start, driving the director on the convoy from Bluff and has Held the Line ever since! A big THANK YOU to our star writer, social firestarter and website wrangler, Meagan McNamara, who is bringing an impressive array of skills from her time as a mental health nurse (now mandated) to filmmaking and film distribution – Health New Zealand’s loss is the film industry’s gain! Our media liaison, Chanté Neblett, has been expertly fielding the good, the bad and the ugly from the media with heaps of joy and insight. 🙂 If you like the graphics and the poster, please thank Helen Greenway! Head to her shop to buy our stunning merch and support her team. All those trailers, teasers and voxpop reels? This is the work of editor extraordinaire with style and grace, Ben Powdrell. Big thanks to Leeane Munro for the graphic quotes, extra editing and puppy stories! Heidi Holland made beautiful graphics for our musician interviews – these interviews are available on our Facebook page. Thanks to the hard work of Fran Carney and Mark Lapwood, who have been working the room across the socials, replying to numerous messages and putting a few trolls and bots back under the bridge! I want to also thank Josh who has been happily delivering the film to many cinemas for us, at very short notice. In our independent film ‘self-distribution’ space, this small team have all been working hard across many different jobs. Thank you to everyone.

    And, finally, it’s our producers birthday today ! So here’s a really big thank you to Jared Connon, who has been holding this all together from the beginning, taking care of numerous details, never forgetting things, and pulling together the most inspiring, encouraging and beautiful team of filmmakers.

    Thank you team
    Gaylene Barnes
    Director ❤️

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  2. ED, Excellent, it’s been my opinion right from the start that the people of NZ owe a huge debt to those protesters, the good among them and the bad because it opened that tyrannical shitbag Ardens eyes up to the fact that her game was over, she never recovered from what happened at those demonstrations that ultimately led to her skulking off like the dirty gutless coward she always was.

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  3. This time is the most perfect timing for a movie to come out regarding the protest. It will bring to mind how despicable those politicians really are. FUCK them all and their parties. Hope they all rot in Hades. I hope they will regret their actions if not now, in the after life I hope there is a special place for them, great. How the police behaved was despicable and I hope all those police that acted in this way rot in Hades as well. This was the biggest scam the world has known.
    Enjoy the weather today people it is going to be fine for the next two days. Enjoy and be careful out there…….

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  4. Among the many who ws the Standout ex MP who supported all of us?
    Wasn’t the old Maori gentleman in a suit who likes publicity slightly less than himself.

    You know now who you should support if you truly are aFreedom beleiver.

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  5. There was one image I was sorry not to see in the doco. —the old guy in his old army uniform standing to attention at his gate in Woodville (I think) as the convoy went past. To me that epitomized everything.

    Having said that, I think this film will in time become a very important, historical digital “document” if it is allowed to by the b….ds referred to in the top article.
    I’m told the other doco on the protest that came out a few months ago , in two parts, on the Net is also very good. Sorry I haven’t got it’s name on hand.

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  6. Thanks to Counterspin Media I followed the protest from the start; right from the convoys and the crowds’ support on the overbridges to the violence of the end. It was a surreal time indeed.

    Seeing this post here today is like a message from somewhere as a couple of days ago Mrs Euro and I booked to see River Of Freedom tonight in the Rialto Newmarket in Auckland. We will be going with a fried of ours who developed a turbo cancer in his neck a couple of weeks after getting his first (and only) injection. It was touch and go for a while but thankfully he pulled through after multiple surgeries and radiotherapy – but he is a changed man on many levels.

    I’m really looking forward to seeing the film and I think the makers have made a brilliant decision to release it in cinemas where it brings people together in the flesh as real live humans to share the experience, rather than watching it on their phones at home. This alone, I think, signals the beginning of a change in awareness among the people. Let’s hope.

    A part of me is wondering, though, whether the deep state will at some stage react in the same way that they physically attacked Posie Parker and they’re trying to shut down Julian Batchelor and others. I hope not, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the state is gathering behind the scenes in metaphorical unmarked vans ready to launch an attack using agents provocateurs like they did at Parliament.

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