The Arts: Crème de la Screen

For movie buffs, October is the most wonderful time of the year.
Hawai‘i International Film Festival
Oct. 19 to 29;
For tickets and details, visit or call 528-3456.

Each year, the Louis Vuitton Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) brings to our doorstep world-premiere screenings, seminars on film-making, opportunities to rub elbows with esteemed actors and directors, and some of Asia’s and Oceania’s most cutting-edge visual art.

Last year, HIFF drew about 70,000 people, and showed 260 films from 40 countries, including Mongolia, Cameroon and Rwanda. This year, director of programming Anderson Le plans to reduce the number of films. “Last year was our big 25th anniversary, but generally I like to keep the number a bit lower.” Fewer films gives festivalgoers more chances to catch a film that is gathering raves.

Le has programmed a special emphasis on second-generation Vietnamese- American filmmakers, who return to Vietnam to make movies and explore their roots. Film in general is modernizing in Vietnam, notes Le. “The censorship is relaxing, the government is opening the doors to more outside people.” With a nod to the Filipino Centennial, HIFF will also showcase new Filipino cinema. “It’s not the traditional melodramas. Manila is digital; there are more cameras in people’s hands. These digi-films have a grit, an edge, to them.”

Other highlights will include Babel, from Mexican director Alejandro González Iñárritu (21 Grams, Amores perros), Volver, from Spain’s Pedro Almodóvar (All About My Mother, Talk to Her) and a Japanese film, Hula Girls. Hula Girls tells the true story of a mining town in 1960’s rural Japan. When the mine falters, the town reinvents itself as a Hawai‘i-inspired destination. The film features original music from Na Leo and Jake Shimabukuro.

Penelope Cruz (right) stars in Volver, which means “to return,” showing at HIFF. photo: courtesy of HIFF

The celebrity spotting should be good, too. Jurors for the festival include noted film critic and radio-show host Elvis Mitchell, actor Kal Pen (Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle) and South by Southwest film festival producer Matt Dentler.

HONOLULU Magazine is again a supporter of HIFF this year, and sponsors an award for Best Short Film.