Star-Bulletin Features

Tuesday, April 23, 2002

Student Film Festival founder and coordinator Paul Booth at work in a video editing suite at Hoike Community Television studios on Kauai.

Love of film
flows in student fest


By Gary C.W. Chun

It would be fair to call Paul Booth the movie mogul of Kauai. And he's only 23. His youth belies his accomplishments. Booth lives and breathes film -- giving lectures on film history, writing reviews for his Kauai Community College newspaper -- and, more important, founding and coordinating for the last three years the statewide Hawaii Student Film Festival.

After a successful stint on the Garden Isle, the festival comes to Oahu this weekend with the first-time help of the Hawai'i International Film Festival. The student fest will showcase shorts, features and documentaries selected by Booth from young Hawaii filmmakers, with a smattering of mainland entries.

Booth is also a filmmaker who directed four narrative shorts and several videos on Kauai before taking 2001 off to complete a one-year program at a Vancouver film school. He also worked on a few film projects, including producing last year's HIFF audience favorite "Blood of the Samurai."

"I like working from here," he said by phone from his Kapaa home. "It's more relaxing than Honolulu. ... With my immediate family here as well, Kauai keeps me in line.

"I've loved film since I was 12, although I wasn't serious about it until 19," he said. "I went through my lazy high school years at Moanalua on Oahu, but after two years at Kauai Community College, I started a film club in the fourth semester, where interested students like myself could meet on a regular basis to discuss and watch films."

Booth is self-taught as a film historian. "Sometimes I would watch up to four to five films a day, and read book after book about films." He's a fan of all genres, particularly movies made by legendary directors such as Billy Wilder, John Ford and Elia Kazan, and starring favorite actors like Jack Lemmon and Henry Fonda.

The directing bug bit him when he saw Oliver Stone's "JFK." "It had such a powerful message," he said. "It's my ultimate goal to make a film with the same purpose as that."

Booth's film expertise impressed fellow Kauai resident Aaron Yamasato, whom he met after the inaugural festival. "Aaron had just moved back to Kauai, and since I met so many contacts from doing that first festival and working on the shorts, I used my connections to help him get a camera, lights and videotape.

"What I did as a producer was not only give him regular feedback, but also help scout for locations, do production scheduling and casting. I just made sure all elements were in line for him, and it provided me with a terrific opportunity."

"Blood of the Samurai" will get a return screening this weekend as part of the student festival, with some changes.

"Some of the more objectionable parts women complained about (language and violence against the main female character) were deleted, plus the movie was recut slightly, using different camera angles during the fight scenes," Booth said.

Booth is also in talks with a Honolulu director to get his own film made. "I also have a script I would love to shoot, but I'm waiting for this festival to blow over first."

His dream includes attending UCLA film school, and he has someone like Caleb Offley to spur him on. The USC film school grad is working at the political think tank Hoover Institute but was a temporary instructor at KCC who became Booth's film club advisor.

"I owe him a lot of gratitude," he said. "This is someone who was a full-time instructor, teaching five history classes, who took the time out to help me. The help he gave me goes hand in hand with making films, because you need a mentor like him to stretch your capabilities."


The Third Annual Hawaii Student Film Festival

Where: Signature Dole Cannery theaters
When: From 6:30 p.m. Friday, from 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Admission: $5
Call: 528-3456 or go online at

Here are festival highlights:

>> "Voices from the Past," by Jordie Ocenar, Pearlridge Elementary: Documentary about the Pearl Harbor bombing, "about friendship and forgiveness between a Japanese bomber and an American survivor." (Part of the 6:30 p.m. Friday "Head of the Class" program.)

>> "Flash," by senior Jay Hanamura, Punahou School: Along the lines of "Memento" and "Run Lola Run," Booth said, it's "about a guy who is challenged to steal from an art gallery, who is later attacked by a hitchhiker he picks up. Different scenarios are played out that shows what would've happened had he not stolen or gotten involved with the hitchhiker." (Part of the "Head of the Class" program and showing again around 3:30 p.m. Saturday.)

>> "Silent Love," directed by Ken Sato, Leeward Community College: Quirky "mockumentary" about a guy who falls in love with a mime. "It's good for a laugh and a smile," Booth said. (Part of the "Head of the Class" program and 3:30 p.m. Sunday "Show the Truth" program.)

>> "The Total Flower" by 4-year-old Akiko Jacqueline Bates (with help from dad Robert): Animated short by a Waiokeola preschooler first began as blue crayon drawings made while Akiko was waiting for dinner at a restaurant. Her dad, a TV producer-director, assisted in editing the "charming story about the ups and downs of friendship and the weather." (Part of the 6:30 p.m. Friday "Head of the Class" program.)

>> "Blood of the Samurai" by Aaron Yamasato: Low-budget, ambitious martial arts movie, a homage to late-night "Black Belt Theatre" TV programs, is showcased at 8 p.m. Saturday. Yamasato and much of the local cast will be there; a Q&A session follows the screening.

>> "Show the Truth": Compilation of high school documentaries and college shorts screens 3:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday, followed by a 6:30 p.m. awards ceremony.

Do It Electric
Click for online
calendars and events.

E-mail to Features Editor


Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2002 Honolulu Star-Bulletin