Thursday, August 18, 2022

New film captures Cambridge farmer’s love for cows

Veteran documentary-maker Costa Botes explores the life of cow whisperer Andrew Johnstone.

The 2002 New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) is underway, with local and international feature films and documentaries screening across the country in July and August.

Among these is the Costa Botes-produced and directed documentary When the Cows Come Home, which tells the story of the unusual life of Waikato-based musician, journalist, artist and cow whisperer Andrew Johnstone. 

The independent documentary film, with the tag line is ‘even loners need a herd’, captures Johnstone and his heart-warming relationship with his cows, Tilly and Maggie, who he has befriended and subsequently saved from slaughter.

“I wanted her to be a forever cow,” Johnstone said of Tilly.

The 104-minute film also delves into Johnstone’s various quirks and events in his life, from personal family tragedy to warring with Catholic school authorities, innovating in Hamilton’s nascent music scene to creating guerrilla art installations, which set him on a path to discovering that he is happiest among his herd on his Cambridge farm. 

“I love being surrounded by cows. There’s no discussion, there’s no talk. It’s just purely emotional,” he said of his cows in the film.

Multi-award-winning Botes, who is also a writer and cinematographer, said his latest film “is about mavericks, square pegs and the need to belong”. Botes is also known for his directorial work on Forgotten Silver, Candyman, Last Dogs of Winter, Angie and The Making of The Lord of the Rings documentary.

When The Cows Come Home will premiere at the NZIFF on July 31 at ASB Waterfront Theatre in Auckland.

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