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.
Though gifted with a typically driving chorus, this Naked and Famous track evokes a state of limbo and dissatisfaction. Winner of a New Zealand Music Award for Best Music Video of 2014, Campbell Hooper's clip is permeated by mist and mysterious, possibly violent events. Is that a murder playing out on screen, or merely someone getting the firewood ready? Are those men doing exercise, or punishing themselves? And is that Michelle Ang getting out of the pool? Longtime collaborator Hooper directed the video in New Zealand and the band's base in Los Angeles.
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.
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.
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.
A one-off project, the Mt Raskil Preservation Society was put together to perform 'Bathe in the River', the rousing gospel-inspired number that forms the centrepiece of Don McGlashan's score for Toa Fraser's feature film No. 2. Those accompanying vocalist Hollie Smith include Wellington-based singer Bella Kalolo (on lead backing vocal), Auckland's Jubilation Choir and regular McGlashan collaborators David Long (a former Mutton Bird) and Sean Donnelly (aka SJD). McGlashan recorded his own version of 'Bathe in the River' for his Marvellous Year album.
After his hard-hitting debut single 'Stand Up' and the hit remix of 'Not Many', Scribe took a gentler approach on the third single from his five times platinum debut album. Rolling clouds open the music video, which trades bombastic beats and ominous synth tones for gentler piano. The chart-topping hook, originally written for Che Fu, was sung by Scribe himself after encouragement from collaborator P-Money. Photos from Scribe’s childhood appear on screen while he raps about the struggle to realise his potential, before glimpses of 'making of' footage from previous videos.
Evan Short, one half of drum and bass duo Concord Dawn, talks about electronic music making in this episode from a series made for high school students. Appropriately, he first met future collaborator Matt Harvey in school music lessons and they later reconnected as drum and bass fans while studying audio engineering. To the thundering accompaniment of Concord Dawn’s student radio hit 'Morning Light', Short discusses hardware, software for beginners, the importance of developing good "ears", and the international recognition they have received.
The lyrics to Greg Johnson's ‘Looking out on Monday’ pay tribute to the satisfaction of sleeping in, and skiving off work; they also mention recognising that “failure is in your lover’s eyes”. Johnson's long time musical collaborator Ted Brown appears in the video as the friend who pops over to Greg's place (in Los Angeles?) to say hello. 'Looking Out on Monday' is taken from 2008's Seven Day Cure, which NZ Herald critic Russell Baillie called “one of the most fully realised Johnson albums yet”. The track was included in Dustin Hoffman / Emma Thompson romance Last Chance Harvey.