Born in Cape Town, he is a Fine Arts and Philosophy graduate of the University of Cape Town and holds an M.A. in Film from Columbia University. He was involved in New York's No Wave Cinema subculture. His early fine arts short films have been shown in the Whitney Museum's No Wave Cinema Series, as part of a tribute to the innovative work of filmmakers and artists in Manhattan's Lower East Village.
His first feature, the avant-garde film noir King Blank (1983), starring Will Patton and Ron Vawter, was presented at numerous international film festivals. Oblowitz has collaborated on film and video projects with major New York artists including Joseph Kosuth, Vito Acconci, Lawrence Weiner, 'Joan Jonas' and Spalding Gray. His work has been screened at the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum and the Walker Art Center, as well as Paris' Cinemateque and Beaubourg Museum.
His early films from the 1970s and early 1980s; X-Terminator, The Is/Land, Minus Zero and King Blank are in the permanent collection of the Museum Of Modern Art, New York City.
Oblowitz's other notable work is as a director of photography for Germany's avant-garde filmmaker, 'Rosa Von Praunheim'; four short films that garnered various film festival awards; documentaries on South Africa's prison island, The Is/Land, which won the Melbourne Film Festival in 1982 and a documentary on blues guitarist 'Buddy Guy'; and a retrospective look at Booker T. & the M.G.s.
Oblowitz's mainstream break came in 1997 with This World, Then the Fireworks (1997), based on Jim Thompson's novel and starring Billy Zane and Gina Gershon. This was an official entry at both the Cannes and Sundance Film Festivals. His other mainstream work has been in action and genre cinema. He directed vampire police procedural The Breed (2001), starring Adrian Paul and Bokeem Woodbine, and the people-smuggling road-movie thriller On the Borderline (2001). He has made two films starring Steven Seagal, both in 2003: The Foreigner (2003) and Out for a Kill (2003). For the Sci-Fi Channel he directed SharkMan (2005) (also known as SharkMan), which starred William Forsythe.
Oblowitz has also produced and directed hundreds of commercials and music videos with a variety of top stars including 'David Bowie (I)', 'Eric Clapton', Corey Hart, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, Carole King, Brooks and Dunn, Alan Jackson, Carlos Santana, Natalie Cole, Garth Brooks and John Lee Hooker. Oblowitz also directed a Heineken commercial campaign.
Oblowitz's film, The Traveler (2010), starring Val Kilmer, was released in the United States in October 2010. It won the award for Best Thriller Feature at the 2011 New York International Independent Film & Video Festival.
His iconic surfing documentary, Sea Of Darkness (2010), won many film festivals throughout the world, including Byron Bay International Film Festival, San Sebastien Surf Film Festival, X- Dance Festival at Sundance, New York Surf Film Festival etc...
Oblowitz was recently featured in Blank City (2010), a documentary about the New York No Wave film movement that took place during late 1970s and early 1980s. The documentary features interviews with Oblowitz, along with Jim Jarmusch, Patti Smith, John Waters, Deborah Harry and other luminaries of that scene. It also includes many clips from his early films "Minus Zero" and "King Blank".
In 2013, the Hof Film Festival, Germany, organized a career retrospective of Oblowitz's films, documentaries and selected music videos. His Feature film, The Ganzfeld Experiment, starring Rumer Willis and Dominique Purcell, was released by Screen Media in 2014 and Premiered at The Hof Film Festival in Germany.
1977 X-terminator, (short film)
1978 Table Conversation, (Short Film)
1979 Minus Zero
1980 Too Sensitive To Touch
1981 The Is/Land
1982 King Blank
1983 Basketball: Kurtis Blow, (Hip Hop Music Video-First On Mtv)
1993 The Healer: John Lee Hooker And Carlos Santana (Music Video)
1994 Mustang Sally: Buddy Guy And Jeff Beck (Music Video)
1995 Booker T And The M.G's Live In Laguna (Music Documentary)
1996 Buddy Guy - Live: The Real Deal (Music Documentary)
1997 Standing Here: The Stone Roses, (Music Video)
1997 This World, Then The Fireworks
1998 The Areola (Co-Directed)
2001 The Breed
2003 Out For A Kill
2003 The Foreigner
2005 Hammerhead: Shark Frenzy,
2008 Romantic Resorts
2010 Sea Of Darkness (Documentary)
2010 The Traveler
2013 The Ganzfeld Experiment
2016 Untitled Sunny Garcia Documentary (In Production)
2015 Heavy Water/Life And Times Of Nathan Fletcher