With an art-school background and avant-garde sensibilities, director Florian Habicht is responsible for some of this decade's most original New Zealand films. Since his breakthrough feature, the surreal Woodenhead, Habicht's subsequent films — most notably 2011 award-winner Love Story — have blurred the boundaries between drama and documentary.
Mixing the imagined worlds with the real stuff is something I’ve always been into. Florian Habicht, Sunday Star Times’ Sunday magazine, 2008
Long fascinated by the idea of community, Florian Habicht (Love Story) discovered one in an unexpected place while making his seventh feature. Spookers is the name of a live horror attraction south of Auckland, adjoining what was once Kingseat psychiatric hospital. Habicht got to know a number of the performers working there. Alongside engaging and sometimes emotional interviews — and scenes of the staff at work, scaring the punters silly with zombie brides and chainsaws — he created scenes inspired by the performers' dreams and nightmares.
German-born Kiwi director Florian Habicht charts the journey of Britpop band Pulp to their 2012 Sheffield farewell concert, in this feature doco. As well as singing along with the common people and interviews with Jarvis Cocker and band (musing on everything from ageing to fishmongering), Habicht reunites with his Love Story co-writer and cinematographer to provide a paean to the band’s hometown and fans (there’s a rest home rendition of ‘Help the Aged’). The film premiered to strong reviews at SXSW where Variety found it “warmly human” and “artfully witty”.
Love Story sees filmmaker Florian Habicht finding a movie, a plot, and a beautiful Ukranian, on the streets of New York. The off-beat romance is part love letter to NYC, part the story of Florian and Masha, and possibly even part true: with the script to this genre-bending tryst being written before our eyes, thanks to story input from real-life New Yorkers. Love Story won Aotearoa awards for best film and director, and raves from the Herald’s Peter Calder, who noted festival audiences gasping at the "strange, surprising and wildly romantic ideas sprinkled through it".
Florian Habicht returns to Northland (home surf and turf and Kaikohe Demolition territory) to chronicle the annual Red Snapper Classic fishing competition. The first prize is $50,000 but the participants chase the joy of the cast as much as the purse. The solitary figures on the epic sweep of Ninety Mile Beach provide striking images, while Habicht teases out their innermost thoughts and some fine homespun philosophy. A 50s era soundtrack is an apt match while the closing underwater sequences are a stunning counterpoint to the anglers' endeavours.
Rubbings from a Live Man is a semi-dramatised biography performed by the subject himself — theatre legend Warwick Broadhead. Broadhead recounts his dramatic life story through vignettes featuring his characters. This collaboration with Florian Habicht represents one of the only times Broadhead's performances were captured on film. He describes his upbringing as a lot of cover up and pretence. "Then I went into the world of theatre," he says, "which is cover-up and pretence." Broadhead passed away in January 2015, having predesigned a memorable funeral.
Puppetry must feature in any credible video collection. This masterpiece by Florian Habicht and Steve Abel is the obvious choice. Note the uncanny resemblance between Steve and his wobbly little understudy "Unitec let us use a space for two weeks to build the set. We used moss to make the puppet set, and Kirsten and I were shot in my flat in Kingsland using a green-screen. The puppets have independent careers in Oly Smart's European traveling puppetry show." Steve Abel - April 09
The far out meets the Far North in director Florian Habicht's tribute to a community of characters drawn together by a desire to demolition derby. Behind the bangs, prangs, and blow-ups, the heart and soul of a small town — Kaikohe — is laid bare. “Having work as generous and high-spirited as Kaikohe Demolition on the programme makes my job so easy it's embarrassing!”, Bill Gosden, Director of International NZ Film Festivals, 2004. Note: the second clip is a subtitled version of the mud-splattered motorhead-delighting film.
Innocent Gert, who works in a rubbish dump, can't believe his luck when he's ordered by his imperious boss to take his beautiful mute daughter, Princess Plum, to meet her prospective husband. The two set off on a mythical quest through a fairytale Far North landscape. On the way they encounter freaks and monsters, and experience danger and romance. In an unusual reversal, the voices and music for Woodenhead were all recorded before filming. This surreal debut feature from Elam grad Florian Habicht took Aotearoa to the art house with unprecedented wit, weirdness and wonder.