|Over lunch, just days before its world premiere as part of the NZ International Film Festival, performer, author, director, playwright, visualiser, poet and free spirit Warwick Broadhead told me about the film of his life.
In Rubbings From A Live Man, 'Broadhead recounts, re-imagines and re-enacts a life lived to the full and dogged by personal tragedy', announces the Film Fest's programme. "Dogged?" the sixty-three-year-old challenges. "That's not my view of it. I've been through personal tragedies, but in a way, they have been a blessing, because I've had to face hardships.
"In life we're dealt cards, and then it depends how you play them. The things that have happened to me have given me more appreciation of life and have made me stronger."
And indeed, Broadhead's unshakeable spirit - and keen sense of fun - is immediately evident in our conversation. It's no surprise that noted director Florian Habicht (Kaikohe Demolition) decided to make a movie about his exploits. Known and loved as a veteran Auckland performer on stage and in private home events, the thespian has also appeared in performances in England, the USA and Europe, playing a wide variety of characters.
Never a dull moment for Broadhead, whose many stunts include marrying his Grey Lynn house in an elaborate ceremony. "The relationship was a bit wooden," he jokes, and eventually he had a reverse 'divorce' ceremony with his many friends in attendance when it came time to move out.
So, what about the film? We'll see the highs and lows of his life in a production which is as honest and sincere as possible, he tells me.
"Some people who've seen it say it's like a journey into the soul," Broadhead declares with his easy gravitas. "I've really not held back. I have told my truth."
Among the set pieces in the film, some of which are pictured on this page, are scenes in a gay sauna. "I'm revealing a part of myself which has troubled me," he explains. "Florian asked me about that part of my life, which I don't hide - the fact that I go to saunas and things - so I just told him how it was for me." He avoids labelling himself as 'gay' though: "I just see myself as a human being, whose sexuality is towards men."
Rubbings From A Live Man took two years to complete, with 50 hours of filmed material ending up as a 75-minute film. The filming was intense, bringing Broadhead, Habicht and photographer Christopher Prior close. "At times, after a particularly good shoot, they would physically manifest the journey it had taken them on by hugging me," the muse recalls.
"It's a very visual film. I'm proud of it, and I'm proud for Florian. Although I did have quite some say in the making of the film, ultimately it's Florian's work. He had the final say on the edit."
Broadhead says he's encouraged his friends to dress up to the nines for the film's world premiere this Sunday afternoon. Auckland's Sky City Theatre has already sold out of tickets for the first screening, but there are limited seats available for Monday's showing, before Wellingtonians get their chance. And then, as the NZ Film Commission has taken Rubbings From A Live Man to Cannes, Broadhead looks set to pack European theatres again.
The trailer for 'Rubbings from A Live Man' is shown below. Matt Akersten - 15th July 2008