Director: Cosima Lange
Basis berlin Filmproduktion/Beleza Film
For so many people, the introduction to David Helfgott was the movie Shine – in retrospect, if not at that time, that film seems to be more about Geoffrey Rush’s performance than the actual story of Helfgott, Australian pianist who rebuilt his career after devastating mental illness and lives and works to this day with the scars on display, in full view always.
Consider Hello I Am David! something of a real introduction to David Helfgott – unless, via his music, you are already acquainted. And if that’s the case this is extra-for-experts, crucial background, deep background in fact, as we go, fly-on-the-wall with David and his second wife (and saviour) Gillian on their tour with the Stuttgart Symphonic Orchestra.
This is Helfgott the musician – but it is also Helfgott through his wit and wisdom, his everyday sunshine, it is candid and deliberately slow-moving, in fact it crawls and we sit with it probably because of Shine and the 60 Minutes snippets and the bits and pieces of performance we’ve seen and heard. This full picture, arriving in its own time, feels cathartic for audience and no doubt for the Helfgotts. Most obviously because we are seeing the person, rather than having the illness paraded about.
It’s also the story of Gillian and David’s life-saving love. And for that – quite outside of the music and the rebuilding of a career – this is a fascinating and lovely story. I’ll say no more. Go and see it.
Hello I Am David! is part of this year’s Documentary Edge Festival in New Zealand. The festival’s films screen in Wellington May 4-5, 2016 and in Auckland May 18-29, 2016.