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 the wake of the Allied invasion of Normandy, US soldier Saul (Usual Suspect Gabriel Byrne) meets Belle, alleged to be a Nazi collaborator. He offers to stay in her cottage as Résistance accusers circle. The tragic tale of moral ambiguity during wartime was adapted from a novel by Kiwi MK Joseph. Filmed in France in 1988, director Larry Parr’s feature debut was troubled by the withdrawal of a French partner and bankruptcy of the US distributor; after film festival showings it screened on NZ television in 1995. French actor Marianne Basler won a 1992 NZ Film Award as Belle.
South Pacific hip hop heavyweight King Kapisi (aka Bill Urale) won the 1999 APRA Silver Scroll award for Songwriter of the Year with 'Reverse Resistance' — the first Polynesian to do so. The Wellington-born PI rapper signed to Festival Mushroom Records in 2000 and released the critically acclaimed Savage Thoughts, followed by 2003's 2nd Round Testament and 2005's Dominant Species. The albums showcase Kapisi's politically conscious lyrics and distinctive beats. His collaborators have included Che Fu, The Mint Chicks, and his partner Teremoana Rapley. In 2006 Kapisi formed his own record label, Quabax Wax.
While in Tahiti to scout for locations for a film (ultimately unrealised) on the mutiny of the HMS Bounty, legendary British director David Lean (Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago) became fascinated by a lost anchor jettisoned by Captain Cook in 1773. Produced for New Zealand’s South Pacific Television, this film follows the anchor’s discovery — by River Kwai bridge exploder Eddie Fowlie — and salvage. A rare 'documentary' credit for Lean, the film was written by his regular scripting collaborator Robert Bolt; Kiwi Kelly Tarlton provides expert dive guidance.
Kaitangata Twitch follows 12-year-old Meredith, who sees eerie visions as a Governors Bay island is drilled for mining. The Māori Television series was adapted from a Margaret Mahy story by long-time collaborator Yvonne Mackay. Mahy makes a rainbow-wigged cameo in this episode where the locals protest a subdivision, and Meredith apprehends the island's 'twitch'. Newcomer Te Waimarie Kessell stars, with Charles Mesure and George Henare. The mix of the Māori concept of wairua with a willful 21st Century teenage heroine won a Remi Award at Worldfest-Houston 2010.
After 10 years with platinum-selling, multi-award-winning pop band Goldenhorse, singer/songwriter and onetime Judo champ Kirsten Morrell embarked on a solo career in 2009 with album Ultra Violet and the singles 'Cherry Coloured Dreams' and 'Friday Boy'. Morrell's longtime Goldenhorse collaborator Geoff Maddock plays a range of instruments throughout the album, while the versatile Jol Mulholland co-produced with Morrell.
On ‘Lady Lywa’, Nathan Haines swaps his trademark saxophone for a flute, serving up a slice of sleekly sophisticated cool. The video captures a live performance at London’s Lovebuzz Studios, with a sharply suited Haines leading a five piece ensemble of seasoned players — including his long term collaborator, keyboardist/producer Mike Patto. The track was penned by Haines, and features on his 2013 long-player Vermillion Skies, which debuted on the local top five on release, and won him his third Best Jazz Album Tui at the 2014 New Zealand Music Awards.
For fourth album Belle (2011), Bic Runga found new collaborators, including brothers Kody and Ruban Nielson (The Mint Chicks), with Kody becoming Belle's producer and Runga’s partner. ‘Tiny Little Piece of My Heart’ was the first result, and opening track; The Herald's Lydia Jenkin called the girl group style number "an irresistible piece of pop, deceptively effortless in its spacious groove and sweet keyboard riffs". The black and white video for the jaunty song about moving on, sees Runga lolling about on a bed with a vintage camera. It was directed by fashion photographer Oliver Rose.
Frequent collaborators singer Anika Moa and director Justin Pemberton crossed paths again for the music video of this track, from Moa's 2008 album In Swings the Tide — her first, slightly countrified album for EMI. In a tastefully furnished room, Moa wakes in a bed of chocolate satin sheets, only to find the day is nearly done for her and the mysterious bedmate sleeping next to her. Moa exhorts her lover, “please don't be mean to me 'cos I really tried ...”, before stripping the duvet off the relationship to see what's underneath.
Filmed in New Zealand’s deep south, this feature follows the vicissitudes of Adrian: a sensitive 11-year old haunted by the disappearance of three local children, who befriends mysterious new-in-town Nicole. The adaptation of Sonya Hartnett’s coming of age novel Of A Boy, is the feature debut of Denmark-based Dunedin-born director Daniel Joseph Borgman, following on from his lauded shorts Berik, and Lars and Peter. The creative team behind the 'informal' Danish-NZ co-production included frequent collaborators of directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg.