Composer Marc Chesterman has brought his experience of playing drums in bands and sound designing for the theatre, to the screen. Chesterman has worked on a run of films with director Florian Habicht, including composing the soundtrack for Woodenhead and Spookers. He has composed music for Zia Mandviwalla short Eating Sausage, and was sound designer for Rita Angus documentary Lovely Rita.
...it's an ever-changing, constantly surprising and slightly malevolent mood-fest. Grant Smithies, reviewing Marc Chesterman's soundtrack for Woodenhead, The Sunday Star-Times, November 2003
Long fascinated by the idea of community, Florian Habicht (Love Story, Kaikohe Demolition) discovered one in an unexpected place while making his eighth 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.
Love Story sees director Florian Habicht finding a movie, a plot, and a beautiful Ukranian on the streets of New York. The offbeat romance is part love letter to NYC, part the story of Florian and Masha, and possibly part true: with the script to this genre-bending tryst being written before our eyes, via story ideas from real life New Yorkers. Love Story won Aotearoa awards for best film and director, and raves from Variety and the Herald’s Peter Calder, who described Auckland Film Festival audiences gasping at the "strange, surprising and wildly romantic ideas sprinkled through it".
Director Florian Habicht returns to his Northland home turf to chronicle the annual Snapper Classic Fishing Contest, in this full-length documentary. 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 poetic images, as Habicht teases out homespun philosophy while fishing for answers on love, the afterlife and whether fish have feelings. The soundtrack features 50s style instrumentals from Habicht regular Marc Chesterman, plus singalongs on the sand and at the local pub.
Rubbings from a Live Man is a semi-dramatised biography largely performed by the subject himself — legendary theatre actor and director Warwick Broadhead. He recounts his dramatic life story by adopting a number of personas. The collaboration with director Florian Habicht marked a rare time the camera-wary Broadhead performed on screen. He describes his troubled 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.
An affectionate documentary about painter Rita Angus. Angus was well known for her enigmatic self portraits, and this Gaylene Preston-directed documentary explores the relationship between the work and biography. It gathers together new material about Angus's life, as well as interviews with a group of friends who knew her, and a new generation of appreciators including biographer Jill Trevelyan. Many of her paintings are also featured, evocatively shot by Alun Bollinger; actress Loren Horsley captures an uncanny likeness as a young Angus.
This short film follows a freshly-arrived Korean immigrant, trapped in suburban Auckland while her husband Kim works. Su Jung befriends her neighbours, who take her to their weekly swimming lessons, where she finds release in the water. But when swimming affects the cooking of dinner, Kim is piqued. For 2009 Spada New Filmmaker of the Year Zia Mandviwalla, Eating Sausage was the first in a quartet of shorts exploring cross-cultural collisions (Clean Linen, Amadi and Cannes-selected Night Shift). It was selected for the London and Pusan Film Festivals.
Director Florian Habicht's follow-up to his offbeat fairytale Woodenhead is a documentary tribute to a community of characters, drawn together by a desire to jump in a car for the local demolition derby. Behind the bangs, prangs, and blow-ups, the heart and soul of a small Far North town — Kaikohe — is laid bare in this full-length film, thanks to a cast of fun-loving, salt of the earth locals. Kaikohe Demolition won rave reviews, and The Listener named it one of the ten best films of 2004. Filmmaker Costa Botes writes about the film's characters and qualities here.
Innocent Gert, who works in a rubbish dump, can't believe his luck when he's ordered by his 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 second feature from Elam art school grad Florian Habicht took Aotearoa to the arthouse with unprecedented weirdness and wonder.