New Zealand documentary skyrockets into streaming charts

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Dec 14, 2023 |

River of Freedom. Supplied.

Within 24 hours of its release on AppleTV, New Zealand documentary River of Freedom has become the fourth-most watched film on the site in New Zealand behind Taylor Swift The Eras Tour, The Equalizer 3 and Barbie.

River of Freedom is an intimate journey into the 2022 protest and occupation at Parliament — an uprising against Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s ‘No Jab, No Job’ mandatory Covid-19 vaccination regime.

Journeyman Pictures secured the worldwide rights to the film.

Journeyman’s CEO Mark Stucke said the film is, “a unique and visceral account of the under-reported and divisive furore that erupted in New Zealand over its covid policy.”

The documentary launched on AppleTV on 13 December and is also streaming on and Vimeo. A broader release to digital platforms Amazon and Google will follow.

A professional filmmaking team were on the road and embedded within the protesters throughout the month-long convoy and occupation in 2022. River of Freedom lays out the reasons behind the uprising — who the people were, why they were there and what happened. 

The film is written, produced and directed by Gaylene Barnes (Seven Rivers Walking) and produced by Jared Connon (Pearl) and Julian Arahanga (Songs from the Inside). Robin Monotti Graziadei (The Book of Vision) is executive producer. 

The production was entirely crowd-funded. Many artists donated the rights to their songs for use in the film including Eric Clapton’s This Has Gotta Stop and UK’s Right Said Fred We’re All Criminals, to name a few.

Director and editor Gaylene Barnes said, “I’m really proud of the success of our film in New Zealand and how it touched audiences. What an opportunity for people the world over to experience New Zealand at its worst … and at its best.”

River of Freedom – fourth on the AppleTV charts.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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