Samurais, Godzilla and Cowboys-oh my!
HIFF celebrates its 25th anniversary, with movies, movies, movies.
With screenings, seminars and parties stretched over 10 days, to be attended by an estimated 65,000 film lovers, this year’s Louis Vuitton Hawai’i International Film Festival promises to be one of the best yet.
As always, the festival will bring in some of the most provocative films around the Pacific and Asia, to foster cultural understanding, in addition to films from the U.S. To name just a few:
• Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, based on a short story by E. Annie Proulx, an unconventional Western love story starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger.
• River Queen, the latest from writer/director Vincent Ward (Map of the Human Heart, What Dreams May Come), follows a young Irish woman in 1860’s New Zealand as she and her family are caught up in the wars between indigenous Maori and British colonialists. It stars Samantha Morton and Kiefer Sutherland.
• It wouldn’t be HIFF without a good samurai epic in the mix-The Hidden Blade, directed by Yoji Yamada.
• The "Extreme Asia" series features such irresistible titles as Godzilla Final Wars, Karaoke Terror, Neighbor No. 13 and more.
HIFF’s Hawai’i Panorama series will bring the best in locally made films to the big screen. “We have extremely high-caliber works in the this year’s Hawai’i filmmakers series,” says Chuck Boller, HIFF’s executive director.
One screening may be bittersweet for some local film fans-Picture Bride, the 1994 film by Hawai’i filmmaker Kayo Hatta, who died this summer at just 47 years old. “We wanted to do a tribute to Hatta as a way of honoring Hawai’i filmmakers, so we’ll show Picture Bride at a special Sunset on the Beach on October 22, a venue that reaches huge audiences,” says Boller.
Other festival highlights: Film critic Roger Ebert returns to HIFF for the first time in three years, on hand to explicate the science-fiction/film noir cult classic Dark City.
Russell Boyd, winner of HIFF’s 2005 Kodak Vision Award for Cinematography, will walk film-goers through a screen of his nautical epic, Master and Commander. HIFF is also honoring actors Samuel L. Jackson, Japanese powerhouse actor/ producer/director Sonny Chiba and will be presenting a lifetime achievement award to director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers).
This year, HONOLULU Magazine is supporting HIFF. We’re especially pleased to sponsor the creation of a new filmmaker award, the festival’s first award for short films. “We’ve wanted to do something like this for years, to recognize the incredible creativity that goes into short films” says Boller.
The award comes with a cash prize, which will hopefully get filmmakers moving on their next project-or at least, pay off some of the credit card debt on the short they’ve already made. As Boller notes, many filmmakers get their start making shorts. Since magazines specialize in the art of short-form writing, we felt a special affinity for filmmakers working in a similarly compressed form. Best of luck to all the filmmakers.