The 2011 edition of the NZFF kicked off at the Civic in Auckland last night with a world premiere, Florian Habicht’s Love Story, with an onstage performance from the director at times as out there as the film itself.
After the screening, Habicht woke his co-star, Masha Yakovenko, in the middle of the night in New York with a phone call to allow the audience to congratulate her by remote before inviting three of his collaborators onstage: editor and co-writer Peter O’Donoghue, camera-person Maria Ines Manchego (The Strength of Water, River Queen) and long-time collaborator sound guy Marc Chesterman (Land of the Long White Cloud, Kaikohe Demolition).
All did impressive jobs, given the way in which the film was shot.
The film came about as a result of an award given to Habicht to enable him to spend time in New York, the Harriet Friedlander award, presented by the Arts Foundation in 2009. Earlier in the opening night, another award was presented, by the Friends of the Civic, to Tammy Davis for his short Ebony Society. Sadly the Sundance-premiered 13-minute film, which features Outrageous Fortune stomping ground mate Kirk Torrance, wasn’t screened, but can be seen with Kid on a Bike during the festival.
Festival director Bill Gosden opened the evening with a warm speech which, although occasionally inaudible at the back of the auditorium, neatly covered the traditional elements (thanks to sponsors, filmmakers and audiences) as well as reminding the audience that the NZFF raises the ridiculously high level of 90% of its income from ticket sales, before introducing – one might say unleashing – Habicht on the audience.