Quote Unquote: Why You Should Check Out HIFF (Even if You Already Have Netflix)

Beckie Stocchetti, 32, didn’t see many movies growing up in rural upstate New York. But once she saw “The Matrix” as a teenager, nothing could keep her down on the farm. Starting at the University of Chicago, her passion for film took her to Hawai‘i and back to Chicago Filmmakers, a full-service independent film nonprofit. Hired in 2017 as the new executive director of the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, she oversees a year-round three-ring celluloid circus, with co-directors of programming Anderson Le and Anna Page.
Beckie Stocchetti
photo: david croxford

I WAS BORN IN THIS TOWN outside Niagara Falls. We grew up on an 8-acre plot of land; it was rural, outdoorsy. We played a lot of music.


IN 2009, I WAS IN HAWAI‘I working part-time and saw an ad for an internship at HIFF. They wanted someone with actual experience working with actual films. At the student-run theater at the University of Chicago, I’d spent four years running old machines, fixing film, helping with archival work.


PEOPLE ASK: WHY GO TO HIFF if I can watch it on Netflix? First, Netflix only carries a fraction of what’s out there. Plus, HIFF is a filter that ensures you’re seeing something worthwhile. It’s becoming the way to see films that stand out from the noise.


HIFF BRINGS TOGETHER so many parts of the film world—the political spectrum, the food spectrum, the language spectrum. Hawai‘i is probably the biggest major film festival to have an Asian-Pacific focus—and we draw a strong audience of the actual demographic.


OUR PROGRAMMERS, Anderson and Anna, really knocked it out of the park [at the 2017 festival]. And our locally made films have been getting really good. So this year we changed our competition program to only films made in Hawai‘i.


WE HAVE A NEW PARTNERSHIP with Hawaiian Airlines, programming short films in-flight from our Made in Hawai‘i section. We were really looking at how to share authentic experiences and authentic stories with a larger population—to people who wouldn’t ordinarily hear those voices. At the same time, it will raise the exposure for the films in Hawai‘i.


“Honestly, my parents never let me watch TV. I ended up majoring in film theory.”


I LOVE HIKING, I LOVE stand-up paddling over by Kualoa Ranch, even though there are a bunch of sharks there. It’s super calm and the water is very clear and you can see them.


I LOVE EATING AT THE PIG & The Lady because it’s Anderson’s family and because it’s really good food. I love going to popcorn movies at the Cineplex on my day off. Sometimes I go on dates. Guys never take me to the movies because I will talk about it.


I LOVE GOING TO SEE A film in a theater and watching how the whole community comes together.


The HIFF Spring Showcase, taking place April 6 through 15 this year, is a popular event where films from Sundance and other festivals are screened well before they hit mainstream theaters. More at hiff.org.