Don Driver: Magician

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Paul Judge’s portrait of the late artist, years in the making, becomes a posthumous tribute.

Director: Paul Judge
Year: 2013
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 65 mins

Producers/Editors: Paul Judge, Bridget Sutherland
Photography: Lucy Bowie, Paul Judge
Sound: Chris Burt
Postproduction supervisor: Stuart Page
Narrator: Elizabeth Smither
Music: David Kilgour, Matthew Bannister, Chris Foreman, Martin Lodge, Lester Silver

With: Don Driver, Julian Dashper, Tom Kreisler, Judy Darragh, Christine Hellyar, Wystan Curnow, John Maynard, Allan Smith, Jim Barr, Robert Leonard

World Premiere

Originally planned as a short documentary of the 1999 retrospective at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery, Paul Judge’s film has grown incrementally in the years since to take its place as a thorough record and eloquent posthumous tribute to a major New Zealand artist. We meet Driver at home and in his studio in New Plymouth, tearing up movie posters and reconstituting them into intimations of primal dread no film studio ever dreamt of, at least, not knowingly. Driver’s weirdly animate assemblages took many forms and sizes – those dolls and animal skulls, the prams erupting with plastic tubing – and their stockyard surrealism sent shivers down the spines of the unprepared. It is amusing to hear his flat disavowals of sinister intent, completely apiece with his way of letting the art do the talking. Judge adds in a little later material and earlier footage from as far back as a The South Tonight piece in 1972, and a formative 1965 visit to the US. Elizabeth Smither narrates and interviews Driver, while diverse artists and commentators pepper analysis with anecdote.