‘Life’ duo pose for ‘Portrait’

Sumner Burstyns frame art-themed pic

Thomas and Barbara Sumner Burstyn, whose “This Way of Life” bows in Berlinale’s Generation KPlus on Sunday, are working on a new collaboration at their Cloud South Films shingle, “Yolanda’s Last Portrait.”

A theatrical docu feature, “Portrait” turns on an aging artist in her crumbling mansion in St. Johns Wood in London. An artist of the purest kind, with little or no acknowledgment of the usual domestic facets of life, she’s now old and unwell and her brother, a scientist, has moved in with her.

In “Portrait,” “they live out a giant, daily universal battle between the pragmatic and the romantic writ small but intense,” said Barbara Sumner Burstyn.

As on “Life,” Thomas Sumner Burstyn is directing and filming; Barbara, a Quantas Media award-winning journalist, wrote and is producing.

The new production, ready for delivery in October or November, comes as Paris-based sales company ZED has taken worldwide rights on “This Way of Life.”

A resonant and often stunningly shot portrait of a sprawling, vivacious Maori family that abandons material comforts and a darkly domineering patriarch grandfather, “Life” chronicles the ups and downs of their move to New Zealand’s wild Ruahine Mountains, hunting for food, rearing wild horses and having fun.

“The Karenas are unique in their true disconnect from the ‘market’ view of life,” Barbara Sumner Burstyn said. “We’ve all ingested it to such an extent we hardly notice how much authenticity we’ve lost, how our lives are modulated by the buying and selling of ourselves.”

“Life” was sold to Canada’s Knowledge Network before the ZED deal.

For ZED, an established high-end TV docu producer-distributor focusing on docus chronicling man moving in harmony with nature, “Life” marks its move into theatrical docu-features.

“It’s a logical evolution for a company that’s been doing big-budget TV documentaries,” said ZED’s Celine Payot.

Berlin initiates “Life’s” sales campaign.

“Life” plays Generation KPlus Sunday and Feb. 21.

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