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by Christian Paxton
August 14th, 2012

‘L’ is for the way you look…at Florian Habicht’s “Love Story” and want more. To get some background story on his lovely, lovable, and loving creation, we touched base with the filmmaker to ask him some need-to-know questions. We will be screening “Love Story” this Friday August 17 at Open Road Rooftop, and because we know you will fall in love too, read our interview with Florian to first prepare your heart for what is coming. After the screening, we will also have a Q and A with the filmmaker prior to our rockin’ after party at Fontana’s with complimentary beverages.

Rooftop Films: Throughout the film, you ask a number of New Yorkers their advice and opinions on love, relationships, and the crafting of your story. First, why did you pick this interactive format to craft your story? And second, what made you pick New York as the city to do this in?

Florian Habicht: I was lucky to be in NYC on the Harriet Friedlander Artist residency – from New Zealand. When I first arrived here I started talking to psychics, asking them for love and career advice. My first psychic told me to never go in front of the camera! So I instantly wanted to do the opposite…Near the end of my residency, I missed out on some New Zealand funding and decided I had to make an improvised feature in New York before I left. A week before filming, I still didn’t have the right idea for the story and spontaneously asked friends I’d made on the subway one day for help. Their responses were so passionate that I took out my camera and filmed them. When i got home to the East Village, I fell in love with the footage and realized that not having a script was going to be the film’s secret weapon. That I could literally ask people on the street ‘What happens next?’ In the story… That night, Leonardo Di Caprio (Titanic) came to me in a dream and told me that if I want to make money,then I should make a love story. It was an exciting shoot and great to collaborate and connect with complete strangers! This film could only be made in NYC!

RF: At times, you play with the boundaries of reality and art and make it hard to distinguish between your fictional “Romeo-man-in-love” and your very true self. Can you tell us a little bit about how this evolved?

FH: Film making takes up most of my life, I love it, so my real life and film making 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 (Yakovenko) 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.

RF: You first spot Masha holding a piece of cake on the subway. We come to see the cake soon play a role in your first set of questions to the New Yorkers and eventually become somewhat of a symbol for Masha. What gave you this idea to utilize a piece of cake?

FH: I had an image of a woman carrying a perfectly balanced piece of cake through the streets of NYC. It was a fantasy.

RF: From packing her in a suitcase with carrots to a wedding with a Michael Jackson impersonator, you certainly showed audiences a creative set of scenarios unlike the cliché ones we so often see in the mainstream blockbuster romantic comedies. Yet because some of the situations are so quirky, they offer a story that feels closer to real life while simultaneously giving us romance and comedy in their most quintessential forms. So all of this talk about romantic comedies, did you have any in mind before you started shooting?

FH: Nice… Not that I remember, but I did find the films of Joao Cesar Monteiro (Vai e Vem, God’s Comedy) from Portugal inspiring. I was able to catch his retrospective at Bam Cinemas a few months before the shoot. Monteiro stars in most of his films, playing alter egos. I met an actress from Portugal at a party here on a rooftop. She used to be on the same bus route as Monteiro, and sit next to him sometimes. Crazy.

RF: Easy question, maybe not so easy answer: Who was your favorite individual or group that you interviewed and why?

FH: Libra, the beautiful black woman wearing white, from Harlem. She’s the auto-mechanic poet with the huge smile. No explanation needed!

RF: Lastly, we are SO incredibly excited to have you screen Love Story with us. Is it unrequited love or do you feel the same way?

FH: I’m over the moon Rooftop selected the film when the program was already full, and for your closing weekend.
It’s all feeling a bit surreal at the moment.

Love Story has been touring international festivals and is finally returning to it’s birth city.

I’m hoping the film will get picked up for a theatrical release, and what I would also love to do is screen it for free for a week in a few local cinemas, and give it back to the people of NYC. If we can find some support to make it happen.

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Rooftop Films is a New York based non-profit whose mission is to engage diverse communities by showing independent movies in outdoor locations, producing new films, coordinating youth media education, and renting equipment at low cost to artists.

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