Friday, November 7, 2003

[ HIFF 2003 ]

Isle-made movies
claim top honors
at film festival

"The Ride," Nathan Kurosawa's first feature film, one that depicts Hawaiian values, traditions and culture mainly through the character of a young and charismatic Duke Kahanamoku, won the Hawaii Film & Videomaker Award and the Blockbuster Video Audience Award for Best Feature Film announced last night at the 23rd annual Hawaii International Film Festival award ceremony.

Another Hawaii-made film, "They Call Her Ladyfingers (The Betty Loo Taylor Story)," directed by Patricia Gillespie, won Best Documentary Film in the Blockbuster category.

It's the first time in the festival's history that Hawaii-based films have won both the Blockbuster best feature and documentary awards, said HIFF executive director Chuck Boller. The ceremony was held at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

"Twilight Samurai" (Japan) took best feature, and "Refugee" (U.S.) garnered the top documentary awards in the festival's prestigious First Hawaii Bank Golden Maile Awards, celebrating their 20th year. Each film was one of five Golden Maile nominees.

"Twilight Samurai" was directed by Yoji Yamada and produced by Hiroshi Fukazawa and Yoshitaka Asama. "Refugee" was directed by Spencer Nakasako and produced by Jannette Eng, Spencer Nakasako, Louella Lee and Glades Perreras.

James MacArthur, who played Danny "Danno" Williams on the CBS television show "Hawaii Five-O," and the production were honored with the state's fourth annual Film in Hawaii award, presented to the film or television entity that has contributed significantly to promoting the local film industry.

The jury also honored Tsai Ming-Liang's "Goodbye Dragon" (Taiwan) with a special award.

The Eastman Kodak Award for Excellence in Cinematography was presented to Dean Semler for his contributions to contemporary cinema. His films include "Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior" (1981), "Dances With Wolves" and "City Slickers" (1991), "Waterworld" (1995), "Dragonfly" (2002), "Bruce Almighty" (2003) and the soon-to-be-released "The Alamo."

"Dragon of Love," directed by Doan La and produced by Hieu Ho and Cindy Yoshiyama, won the Blockbuster Best Short Film award.

The Blockbuster Video Audience Award allows the public to vote for the films they believe to be the best in three categories: feature film, documentary and short.

Kurosawa's "The Ride" was made in 17 days for less than $1 million with an all-Hawaii crew and actors. The film featured such early 20th-century details as the Moana Surfrider Hotel's interior and the use of redwood surfboards.

"This is a historic day for the Hawaii film industry and Hawaii filmmakers," said Donne Dawson, Hawaii Film Office manager. "We always expected 'The Ride' to be well received, (but) we're bowled over by how the Hawaii community has received this film and director Nathan Kurosawa."

The Golden Maile Award winners are selected by a panel of judges for films that exhibit unique artistry and technical excellence, and best promote cultural understanding.

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