— ADVERTISEMENT —
Monday, June 20, 2005
MAUI FILM FESTIVAL
Andrew's inclusion was a stretch at best, but to get Luke and Owen, the festival had to include him in the tribute package.
Attracting Hunt and Myers was easier, as both are frequent Maui visitors. Also, like Macy, Luke Wilson, Gyllenhaal and waterman Laird Hamilton, another awardee, all are signed with Creative Artists Agency. Thus, another package deal.
The behind-the-scenes politics for landing celebrities is part of any star-studded event and made little difference to the more than 20,000 who attended the festival and were treated to about 65 films, six major parties and food events, and six actor tributes.
Attendance for the first two days at the Celestial Cinema and the three Maui Arts & Cultural Center theaters was more than 7,500. Final totals are still being counted.
But the parties and increased number of awards ceremonies drew many away from the films. "I thought we would be seeing a lot of films," said Jeff Banks, of Newport Beach, Calif., who attended with his wife, Marie. "We saw the first night's film at the Celestial Cinema, but after that, Marie and I did all the tributes and parties and food events."
Marie, "a huge fan" of Owen Wilson, said that tribute was a necessity. Daughter Chelsea, 17, loves Gyllenhaal, so Mom and Dad took her to that ceremony, then hung around for Macy's award.
"We can always get these films on DVD later, but the parties are a once-in-a-lifetime experience," Jeff said.
"We stayed at the Four Seasons because we knew that's where the festival's honorees stay," Merrick said. "We would see them in the pool or on the beach, then at the tributes, then the parties.
"The only problem is we each gained a few pounds."
That's to be expected. Menus included such exotic items as Spago's sashimi pizza with wasabi cream, fresh hapuupuu fish soufflé with tamarind-lime marmalade, foie gras sausage with plum marmalade, and quail saltimbocca with sage and toasted pine nuts. Not to mention fine wines, exotic martinis -- Bombay Sapphire is the official spirit of the Maui Film Festival -- and the decadence of A Taste of Chocolate.
"The only exercise I've gotten in five days is walking the buffet line," said Chad Thomas, of Las Vegas. "I'm hoping to see Laird Hamilton's surfing film. It'll be the only one I see."
One problem that festival creator/director Barry Rivers will address next year is "the near impossibility" of seeing all the films and making all the special events, because the times often overlapped.
"We know that the festival attracts a lot of foodies who are just mildly interested in film," Rivers said. "But next year, we're going to try to adjust the times of events and some films so you can do at least one tribute and see a major film on the same night.
"Some nights, we won't be able to avoid that, but I think there's wiggle room for tweaking so audiences can get a fuller experience."
While the Maui festival continues to attract big spenders in great number, it has not become a hub for studio and distribution deals, as have similar events, such as the Sundance Film Festival.
But Rivers insists the Maui Film Festival was never meant to be "a place to do deals."
"There are some studio executives who attend every year, but they stay under the radar and often don't even let us know they're here," he said.
If not explicit deal-making, some discussions did take place. Honolulu attorneys Rick Galindez and Roy Tjioe of Goodsill, Anderson Quinn & Stifel attended this year in part to meet with unnamed studio and network executives. Galindez is a legal expert on the state's Act 221 investment credit legislation and has brokered many deals.
"The Celestial Cinema is the best indoor or outdoor film venue anywhere," said Dawson, who attends annually. "No one, from film lover to a studio executive, leaves the Celestial Cinema unaffected by its beauty, perfect sound and projection."
The Maui Film Festival is the Four Seasons' top tourist draw. About 30 percent of the Wailea resort's rooms go to event attendees.
The festival can be credited with influencing a film's first theatrical release, albeit in a small way. The indie "Waiting to Inhale" by Jed Riffe -- about the medical marijuana controversy -- has been signed to open at Hilo's Palace Theater for a week's run next month.
"This is why (independent) filmmakers go to festivals," said an excited Riffe, of Berkeley, Calif. "It's why we came to Maui. We're leaving with very good feelings."
Luke Wilson said the Maui festival is one of the few film events he's ever heard of. "It's just going to get better," he said. "I know personally that Hollywood industry talk about this festival. I liked what I heard: It's a festival about good films, not about the hustle. And Maui makes you relax."
Gyllenhaal was so relaxed by festival's end that when he saw a few dozen Four Season employees lined up in the foyer to honor an outgoing general manager, he joined in.
The Maui vibe was shared by Myers.
"When I was 8, I stood in Lake Ontario and looked across this huge body of water and said, 'Someday I want to be an actor, to make people laugh,'" Myers said just before accepting his Silversword award. "And today, when I was standing in the water at Wailea (beach), I looked up at (Haleakala) crater and the blue sky and the palm trees and remembered never imagining as a kid even being on Maui, being an actor and winning an award.
"I get chicken skin saying this, but dreams do come true."