Director, Editor, Writer
A longtime collaborator with director Florian Habicht, Peter O'Donoghue is also a director in his own right — from shorts to hour-long, life in China documentary Happy Everyday. In 2010 the Australian-based Kiwi headed to New York to edit and co-write Habicht's acclaimed Love Story, whose storyline is partly shaped by feedback from New Yorkers. The pair then collaborated for a film on Brit band Pulp and the band's hometown.
Editing is like a phase of writing — the last phase. It's a chance to let the magic of the actual footage add to the original vision for the film, in both imagined and unexpected ways. Peter O’Donoghue
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.
Savouring the chance to demonstrate that Kiwi cinema is about far more than the usual suspects found on so many top 10 lists, critic Tim Wong provides his own angle on the topic in this film, narrated by Luminaries author and occasional actor Eleanor Catton. Ranging widely — from experimental works, to an often forgotten contender for first Kiwi horror movie — Out of the Mist marked the first of three essay films aiming to “advocate for art on the margins”. Director Wong founded film and arts website The Lumière Reader in 2004.
German-born Kiwi director Florian Habicht charts the journey of Britpop band Pulp to their 2012 Sheffield farewell concert. 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 pay tribute to the band’s hometown and fans (including a rest home rendition of ‘Help the Aged’). The film premiered to strong reviews at US festival South by Southwest, where Variety found it “warmly human” and “artfully witty”.
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.