Love Story

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The man who put Kaikohe on the movie map finds just as much to love about New York City.

Director: Florian Habicht
Year: 2010
Country: New Zealand
Running time: 91 mins
Censor Rating: M - sexual themes

Producer: Pictures for Anna
Screenplay: Florian Habicht, Peter O’Donoghue and the people of NYC
Photography: Maria Ines Manchego
Editor: Peter O’Donoghue
Sound: Marc Chesterman
Music: Georges Delereu, NinoRota, Ennio Morricone, Marc Chesterman, Mina

With: Masha Yakovenko, Florian Habicht, Frank Habicht

World Premiere

When Auckland filmmaker Florian Habicht took up the Arts Foundation’s Harriet Friedlander Residency in New York in late 2009, he was under no obligation to do a jot of work, let alone return with the opening night movie for Auckland’s 2011 Film Festival. It’s hard to imagine a more shining validation of Friedlander’s faith in the regenerative powers of New York City. It’s a Love Story indeed, embracing documentary, fiction, summer, sex, romance, New York and a host of camera-ready New Yorkers in one gregarious, greedy, joyous hug.

Florian’s muse and quarry is the exquisite Masha, romantic fantasy incarnate, first spotted on the subway heading towards Coney Island carrying only a slice of cake perfectly balanced on a plate. Buttonholing miscellaneous New Yorkers, he solicits advice at every stage of the ensuing affair to figure out what could happen next in his film. Even the cranky responses we see crackle with character and perverse joie de vivre.

He’s also consulting a psychic and Skyping dad back home for long-term career guidance. He’s not in Manhattan for ever, and as autumn sets in the film takes on a melancholic undertow. An elderly homeless drunk recalls his boyhood crush: harsh reality and hopeless fantasy constantly jostle and excite each other in Florian’sNew York.

Though presented as a shot-on-the-fly, made-up-as-I-went-along piece of whimsy, it looks like a dream and is cut with wit and dexterity. Already there are so many hymns to New York; why should we be astounded to find another that’s so freshly, contagiously, uniquely in love with the place? — BG

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