Florian Habicht first won attention for 2003's Woodenhead, a fairytale about a rubbish dump worker and a princess. By then Habicht had already made his first feature-length documentary. Many more docos have followed: films that celebrate his love for people, and sometimes drift into fantasy. In this collection, watch as the idiosyncratic director meets fishermen, Kaikohe demolition derby drivers (both watchable in full), legends of Kiwi theatre and British pop, and beautiful women carrying slices of cake through New York. Ian Pryor writes here about the joys of Florian Habicht.
In Episode Two of this series of The Big Art Trip, hosts Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins and Fiona McDonald visit the Grey Lynn home of painter Jacqueline Fahey and the downtown studio of photographer and rocketeer Yuk King Tan. Next they drive west to Laingholm and meet singer/songwriter Victoria (Taus) Girling-Butcher and her band Lucid 3. Then it’s back to Grey Lynn to meet artist John Reynolds and his oil stick paintings, and into the city to see the iconic Bushells sign and meet photographer Natalie Robertson, who is shooting a collection of NZ tea towels.
Taaniko Nordstrom and her sister Vienna are the creative duo behind Soldiers Rd Portraits, who create customised vintage portraits for indigenous people and often work with Māori inmates, reconnecting them with their whakapapa. Wellington filmmaker Louise Pattinson directed and edited this short documentary for the Loading Docs series. She focuses on Soldiers Road working with a group of Māori teenagers trying to find their place in the world. The teenagers tell their stories through letters to tipuna (ancestors), traditional costumes and ta moko.
This second series leg of The Big Art Trip kicks off in Wellington with a visit to artist John Walsh, who chats about his Māori myth paintings and children’s book Nanny Mango. Douglas and Fiona also talk about Washday at the Pa with photographer Ans Westra and pop-in on jewellery designer Steph Lusted. They visit the Massey Memorial, explain typography and check out the Wellington Writers Walk before meeting architect Nicholas Stevens and viewing a cliff top house he designed. The episode winds up with a look at kinetic sculpture Pacific Grass, by Kon Dimopoulos.
Episode four, series four of this Māori artists’ profile series, tracks eminent photographer Fiona Pardington. In this extract Pardington works with her brother Neil, and discusses her life path: her Māori roots, wanting to be a photographer at age six, art school, and the hard road to making a living as an artist. Describing her medium as one of mood and depth, her search is for a balance of knowledge and wairua. Includes images of her stunning interpretations of cultural taonga, such as specimens of esteemed (and extinct) huia birds, and carved pounamu.
Directed by prolific music video maker turned movie director Jonathan King, this clip for pioneering hip hop duo Dam Native won Best Video at the 1997 NZ Music Awards. It evokes the look of a sepia-tinged colonial era photo, and the art direction —Edwardian suits and tokotoko (walking stick) — are beautifully realised. The film was then deliberately scratched to help it look aged. The result makes an effective backdrop to the song’s political lyrics. DJ Sir-Vere called the track “an original Aotearoa classic”.
This episode of arts show Frontseat visits the inaugural edition of the Māori Film Festival in Wairoa, with Ramai Hayward and Merata Mita making star turns, alongside a tribute to teenage filmmaker Cameron Duncan. Elsewhere, Deborah Smith and Marti Friedlander korero about their She Said exhibition, and about photographing kids and staging reality; and Auckland’s St Matthew in the City showcases spiritual sculpture. A ‘where are they now’ piece catches up with Val Irwin, star of Ramai and Rudall Hayward's interracial romance To Love a Māori (1972).
Kete Aronui is a documentary series that features leading contemporary Māori artists. Screening on Māori Television, produced by KIWA Media, and funded through Te Māngai Pāho, its title translates as "basket of knowledge." Each episode provides a portrait: surveying the lives and practices of the artists, often with a focus on how they interact with their whanāu and community. The series surveys artists working in a diverse range of mediums, including dance, photography, theatre, film, poetry, music, tā moko, weaving, and sculpture.
Filmmaker Stewart Main traverses India seeking enlightenment. There he meets ex-pat Kiwis who seem to have found it, which only leaves him feeling trapped in a life of the senses. Especially when he falls for his Indian sound recordist, Sreenu. Or so he would have us think. Made for TVNZ's Work of Art documentary slot, Main's startling, provocative film explores the cracks between the divine and the sensual, documentary and fiction. Director Andrew Bancroft writes about the result in this backgrounder.
This fictionalised account of pioneering 19th century photographers the Burton brothers is set partly in Dunedin during the closing stages of the New Zealand Wars. William and Alfred take contrasting approaches to representing their subjects — and are treated accordingly by the authorities, who are attempting to attract new settlers while brutally suppressing Māori. Produced by veteran John O'Shea (who co-wrote with playwright Robert Lord), the tale of art, commerce and colonisation was largely well received as a thoughtful essay at revisionist history.