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.
Anna Campion directs her mother Edith and younger sister Jane in this slyly observed short: a re-imagining of Edith’s (reluctant) audition for a small role in Jane’s An Angel at My Table. From when Edith picks Jane up at the airport en route to her Otaki home, the professional and personal roles blur. Anxiety, huffs and matriarchal needling ensue as an often comic, sometimes poignant domestic tango between the former stage actress and film director Jane plays out in front of the camera. Anna was studying at London’s Royal College of Art when the film was made.
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 New York City, part the story of Florian and Mash... and possibly part true. The script to this genre-bending tryst is 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 NZ Herald’s Peter Calder — who described Auckland Film Festival audiences gasping at the "strange, surprising and wildly romantic ideas sprinkled through it".
After his mother gets infected by a bite from a deadly Sumatran rat monkey, Lionel (Almighty Johnson Tim Balme, in an award-winning performance) has to contend with a plague of the living dead while attempting to woo the love of his life. Peter Jackson had already been tagged with the title ‘The Sultan of Splatter’ after his first two features, but this was the film that confirmed it. Armed with a decent budget, he takes a Flymo to fusty 1950s New Zealand and takes cinematic gore to a whole new extreme in the process.
David Blyth cemented his place in the Kiwi filmmaking renaissance with two films that left social realism far behind: 1978 experimental feature Angel Mine, and 1984's Death Warmed Up, New Zealand's first homegrown horror movie. Since then Blyth's work has included family friendly vampire film Moonrise, a number of documentaries on war, and varied works exploring sexuality.
Though most of his films have been documentaries, Florian Habicht's work has often blurred the boundaries between truth and fiction. His CV includes offbeat fairytale Woodenhead, two love letters to New Zealand's far north (Kaikohe Demolition, Land of the Long White Cloud), films on theatre legend Warwick Broadhead and Brit band Pulp, and his award-winning, genre-stretching romance Love Story.