With the help of New York citizens, New Zealand director Florian Habicht has created a truly eccentric and original romantic comedy.
Even if a screening is sold out, tickets are often available 30 minutes before the start of the film at the box office at each venue.
- Director-Producer Florian Habicht
- Screenwriter Florian Habicht, Peter O’Donoghue
- New Zealand-USA 2011
- 94 mins
- Production company Laughing Whale Films
With the help of random New York citizens, New Zealand director Florian Habicht (Woodenhead) has created a truly eccentric and original romantic comedy; endlessly inventive and bucketloads of fun. After a seemingly chance subway encounter with a mysterious and beautiful woman holding a slice of cake, Habicht (a gangly and disarming presence who uses ‘talk’ the way Buster Keaton used movement) begins to interview strangers about what he has seen. When he relocates the girl, he casts her to play opposite him as the romantic lead in a love story he is making. Then, in little acts of sheer filmmaking bravado, he sneaks out on their blossoming ‘on screen’ affair in order to invite passers-by, New York street personalities and occasionally his dad (via Skype), to contribute to the plot development. Habicht doesn’t just blur the line between documentary and fiction, he brazenly distorts it in this riotous affair with the camera, New York and the idea of romance.
In my first week in NYC, a psychic told me to never get in front of the camera. ‘Stay behind the camera, don’t ever go in front of it!’ This advice inspired me to do the opposite, and eventually Love Story was born. It was exciting to make a film where the script is a collaboration with complete strangers. It was an adventure and not always great for my insomnia levels as we had no idea where the film was going to go. It was exciting insomnia! In real life I’m a very cautious person, but when making films, I love taking risks. I didn’t audition Masha Yakovenko for example, I just met her, and later during the filming discovered that she has huge special talent. The conversation at Mars Bar in the film was our first conversation in real life. The way I operate best is by not intellectualising too much. I just do it and think about it afterwards. All the people in Love Story (except for my father and co-star Frank) were met for the first time on camera. I love people. I love talking to strangers. We are all connected. Problems begin in the world when we forget that! Filmmaking takes up most of my life, I love it, so my real-life and filmmaking worlds are always entwined. My previous films Woodenhead (2003), Kaikohe Demolition (2004) and Rubbings from a Live Man (2008) all blur the boundaries, and Love Story takes this to the extreme. Masha and I both liked the challenge of not knowing where the film was going to go. There is a lot of trust in this film, with us and the people on the street, and I think there is honesty in our performances. Love Story was a personal challenge too. When New Yorkers would give me these often wild ideas, Masha and I had to be receptive and open to where they took us. At one stage I thought I was going to end up marrying my psychic. There were some pretty wild suggestions from the streets – an artist from the East Village suggested I make love to my audience, so we filmed a love scene between myself and the audience. It didn’t end up in the film. (And won’t end up on the DVD.)
Born in Berlin in 1975 to German/Austrian parents, and moved with his family to New Zealand in 1982. The son of acclaimed 60s photographer Frank Habicht, he studied filmmaking at the Elam School of Fine Arts in Auckland New Zealand and at the Binger Filmlab in Amsterdam. He is responsible for some of this decade’s most original New Zealand films. His debut feature Woodenhead, a Grimm-inspired musical fairy tale, became a cult hit there, and has screened in international festivals as well as being distributed in the USA. The film is renowned for the innovation of recording the entire soundtrack (including the dialogue) before shooting the visuals for the film. This was followed by iconic documentary Kaikohe Demolition, which was released theatrically and won best digital feature at the New Zealand Screen Awards. In 2008 Florian completed the hybrid film Rubbings From a Live Man, a documentary performed by and based on the life of the film’s subject, Warwick Broadhead; and in 2009 unveiled Land of the Long White Cloud, a documentary which returns to the Northland locales of Kaikohe Demolition, but shifts focus from crashing cars to a five-day fishing competition held on 90 Mile Beach. The film premiered shortly before he took up the inaugural Harriet Friedlander New York Artist Residency from the New Zealand Arts Foundation, from which he returned with the idiosyncratic Love Story, which won each of the Best Feature Film, Best Director and Best Editor categories at the NZ Film and Television Awards.
1998 Liebestraume [s]
2004 Kaikohe Demolition [doc]
2008 Rubbings from a Live Man [doc]
2009 Land of the Long White Cloud [doc]
2011 Love Story