HAWAII INT'L FILM FESTIVAL
The Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival offers 260 some-odd shorts, features and documentaries from 40 countries over a 10-day period. Here's a day-by-day breakdown of some of the more interesting offerings. For a full schedule, visit www.hiff.org or pick up a program guide at a Starbucks location.
An Evening with Zhang Yimou
: The mainland Chinese director received worldwide acclaim for films such as "Ju Dou," "Raise the Red Lantern" and "The Story of Qiu Ju" -- all of which made their American premieres at HIFF in the early '90s. Now with the international successes of "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," Yimou returns to the festival for a Q&A session, with a higher profile than ever before. At 6:30 p.m., Dole Cannery.
Zhang Yimou, with Ziyi Zhang, making "Hero."
Director Luis Mandoki goes back to his native Mexico to shoot an unflinching look at the shattering effects of war on children who live directly in the line of fire, in this case, El Salvador's civil war of the mid-1980s. At 3:15 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 3:30 p.m. Oct. 28.
"Daughters of the Wind": Brazil's official entry to the Academy Awards, this is a moving and complex story about redemption among sisters, mothers and daughters. At 6 p.m., Doris Duke Theatre.
"Sunflower": Director Zhang Yang, the master of Chinese family dramas, brings a vivid portrayal of post-Mao culture. A painter who has spent years in a labor camp returns home, his hands badly damaged. His wife and a son do not recognize him and treat him as an imposition. At 6 p.m. Dole Cannery; also 4 p.m. Oct. 28 at Dole and 8:15 p.m. Oct. 25 at Doris Duke Theatre.
"State of Mind": The North Korean film commission granted the director permission to follow two teenage gymnasts preparing to perform at the Mass Games, one of the most elaborate human performance events in the world. The documentary offers a fascinating glimpse into the mentality and lifestyles of the people who live in the Communist country. A Golden Maile documentary nominee. At 6:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 3:30 p.m. Oct. 27.
"One Night in Mongkok": This award-winning Hong Kong crime drama is about a professional hit man on the job to kill a crime lord. He befriends a prostitute who becomes his tour guide through the densely-populated and claustrophobic heart of Kowloon. At 7:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9:45 p.m. Oct. 27.
"Paradise Now": Director Hany Abu-Assad is scheduled to be in attendance for the screening of his award-winning feature. It chronicles 48 hours in the lives of two young Palestinians who are recruited by a nameless organization for a bombing in Tel Aviv. But their plan goes awry when, after crossing into Israel, they are separated, and now each man is left alone with his conscience. At 7:45 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 6:30 p.m. Oct. 22.
"Beauty Remains": A gorgeous, moody period melodrama that humanizes the social schism of 1949 China, when the poor reached for Communism and the wealthy for their passports. Two half-sisters, loosely linked by wealth and family, are thrust back together to please a clause in their father's will. At 8 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 3:45 p.m. Sunday.
"State of Fear": A companion piece to the Golden Maile documentary nominee "The Fall of Fujimori." A trio of veteran American documentary makers blend personal testimony, history and archival footage to tell the story of escalating violence in Peru, where battles between the military occupation and Shining Path insurgents are resulting in thousands upon thousands of civilian deaths. At 8:15 p.m., Doris Duke Theatre.
Music Video Showcase: Videos from local punk bands the Sticklers and Technical Difficulties make it into this annual showcase that features inventive and little-seen videos from U.S. indie and international acts. At 9:15 p.m., Dole Canner; also 7 p.m. Oct. 29.
"Keane": A man is repeatedly drawn to a bus station, the site of the purported abduction of his 6-year-old daughter. The story moves to a whole new level of poignance and tension when he tries to bond with a 7-year-old who's with her financially strapped mother at the transient motel they're all staying at. (With the short "Among Thieves".) At 9:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9:45 p.m. Friday.
Following the death of his mother, a withdrawn 12-year-old boy gradually comes out of his isolation through the remote control of a two-legged robot that he takes into the outside world. The visual effects team behind "Final Fantasy" designed and animated the robot. At 12:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 3 p.m. Oct. 26 and noon Oct. 29.
"American Fusion": A divorced, middle-aged Chinese immigrant wins a long-deferred chance for true love -- with a Mexican-American dentist, much to the chagrin of her family. Sylvia Chang, Esai Morales, and veteran character actors Pat Morita and James Hong star. At 1:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 6:30 p.m. Oct. 29.
"Unsalted": There's plenty of amusing and amazing footage in this documentary as guys attempt to surf the huge freshwater Great Lakes that border Wisconsin, Michigan and Ontario, Canada. They try to shred faces up to 15 feet in storm conditions, which may include snow, hail, sleet, 40-knot winds and floating chunks of ice the size of their boards. At 3:15 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 3:30 p.m. Oct. 25.
"The New Oceania": The life and career of leading South Pacific novelist, poet and dramatist Albert Wendt (currently occuping the Citizens Chair at the University of Hawaii) is documented, along with vivid dramatizations of his work. At 3:30 p.m., Doris Duke Theatre.
"Tetsujin-28": Giant robots in a live-action flick! Black Ox begins to terrorize Tokyo, and it's up to a kid to take up the remote control of a robot trapped in an underground lab, free him and do battle with the mechanical baddie to save the city. At 3:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also noon Oct. 23.
"Pele O Ka Foodmart": In the featured film of the Hawaii Panorama 6 showcase, director Michael Wurth explores how ancient Hawaiian legend can contribute to modern island life. A woman in an abusive marriage awakens one morning believing she's the fire goddess. A Honolulu police psychiatrist attempts to gain her trust after she tries to burn down the grocery store where she works. At 3:45 p.m., Dole Cannery.
"Picture Bride": A tribute to the life of Kayo Hatta will be held at Sunset on the Beach in Waikiki with the screening of her 1995 directorial debut, followed by her final, half-hour short, "Fishbowl," a comic coming-of-age story from Lois-Ann Yamanaka's novel "Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers." At dusk.
"Fishbowl" will also be part of the Hawaii Panorama 4 showcase that includes Ryan Kawamoto's "Sand Island Drive-In Anthem," starring Mark Malalis, Augie Tulba, BullDog, Stephanie Sanchez, Stu Hirayama and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa. The showcase screens at 8 p.m. Oct. 27 at Dole Cannery.
"The Dying Gaul": Indie queen Patricia Clarkson is part of a triangle that involves a successful Hollywood studio producer, his wife, and a down-and-out screenwriter. It all starts when the producer buys the rights to the screenwriter's deeply personal story about losing his partner to AIDS. The only catch is that the rewrite has to make the partner a woman. Campbell Scott and Peter Sarsgaard co-star. At 6:15 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9:30 p.m. Oct. 29.
"What's Wrong with Frank Chin?": This "novel documentary" by Curtis Choy tells of the controversial Chinese-American social activist who gained fame in the 1970s for his contrarian views criticizing the leading lights in the Asian-American writing community, particularly David Henry Hwang, Maxine Hong Kingston and Amy Tan. A Golden Maile documentary nominee. At 7:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 3 p.m. Oct. 29.
"Prime": This sophisticated character comedy tell sof a middle-aged divorcée (Uma Thurman) who gets involved with a talented painter 14 years her junior -- who happens to be the son of her therapist, played by Meryl Streep. At 8 p.m., Dole Cannery; scheduled for national release Oct. 28.
"Godzilla: Final Wars": The monster's 28th, and supposedly final film, is pure geek excess. Past monstrous foes, gargantuan kaijyu battles, aliens, spaceships, superhuman soldiers and Ultimate Fighter Don Frye combine for one humongous throwdown. Directed by enfant terrible Ryuhei Kitamura ("Versus" and "Azumi"). At 9 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
"The Squid and the Whale": Two sons are caught in the fallout of a failing marriage between a couple of learned writers (Laura Linney and Jeff Daniels). Writer-director Noah Baumbach shows how New York City's intellectual class virally unloads its pretensions, dogmas and moral codes on the younger generation. (With the short "Act.") At 9:45 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9:30 p.m. Oct. 28)
From a small courthouse in Cameroon, Africa, two tough-minded women help others in their Muslim village find the courage to fight often difficult cases of abuse, despite pressures from family and their community to remain silent. Described as "a cross between 'Judge Judy' and the 'No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency.' " A Golden Maile documentary nominee. At 12:15 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 6:15 p.m. Oct. 25.
Special Focus on Toei Film Studios: A retrospective of the Japanese studio films that were so popular in Honolulu during the 1970s, starting with the lushly animated 1958 "The White Snake Enchantress" (1 p.m.) Other Toei films shown throughout the day will include another fine animated feature, this time from the mind of manga great Leiji Matsumoto, 1979's "Galaxy Express 999" (3:30 p.m.), and Kinji Fukasaku's yakuza crime boiler from 1972, "Street Mobster" (6 p.m.). At Doris Duke Theatre.
Secrets of the Island: An Insider's Look at the Phenomenon of "Lost":
The cast and creators of "Lost" will address the popularity of the show in a panel discussion.
A panel discussion moderated by the Star-Bulletin's Tim Ryan. Those involved with the hit ABC mystery-drama attending include actors Jorge Garcia and Daniel Dae Kim, executive producer and occasional episode director Jack Bender, and producer Jean Higgins. At 1:30 p.m., Dole Cannery.
"Only the Brave": Director Lane Nishikawa returns with his promised feature about the Japanese-American 100th Battalion/442nd Regimental Combat Team. Nishikawa is also one of the actors, along with Jason Scott Lee, Mark Dacascos, Pat Morita, Tamlyn Tomita and Yuji Okumoto. At 6 p.m., Dole Cannery.
Hawaii Panorama 1: Subtitled "My So-Called Life (in Hawaii)," this session offers a collection of shorts mostly from the creative twentysomething minds of the students of the University of Hawaii's Academy for Creative Media. At 7:45 p.m., Dole Cannery.
Director Michael Kang won an invitation to the coveted Sundance Screenwriters' Lab with this smart and funny coming-of-age feature. A chubby Chinese American 13-year-old is befriended by a bad-boy tenant of his family's sleazy suburban motel, as he pines for the only Asian girl in the county. At 6:15 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 12:30 p.m. Oct. 30.
"Shanghai Dreams": Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at this year's Cannes Film Festival, the film chronicles the hardships brought on by China's relocation policies in the 1960s -- through the story of a young city couple and their two children relocated to the remote, poor and mountainous province of Guizhou. When the father wants to return to Shanghai some 20 years later, his grown daughter refuses to move. At 7:45 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 4 p.m. Oct. 26.
"The Orb": In this featured film of the Hawaii Panorama 2 showcase, Scott Lee Mason has made an ambitious, no-budget, sci-fi horror flick filled with boozing, sex-crazed teens and a sinister, glowing orb that turns anyone into a rabid, bloodthirsty killer! On Oahu, how you figgah!! Plus the short, "Valtor the Great vs. the Universe" from the warped mind of Gerard Elmore, creator of "Amasian: The Amazing Asian." At 9 p.m., Dole Cannery.
"The Hidden Blade":
"Twilight Samurai" director Yoji Yamada's latest film is yet another graceful period drama. Two relationships of a samurai are examined: The first concerns his forbidden affection for the family's servant; the other concerns a classmate whom he has sent to a duel to the death. At 6:15 p.m., Hawaii Theatre.
"Rice Rhapsody": You've already seen Sylvia Chang in "American Fusion" on Saturday afternoon, so have another helping. Here she's a single mother struggling to raise three handsome sons by operating a restaurant. The two oldest are gay, so she is frantic that her youngest doesn't go "that way," as she wants grandchildren. She hopes that a lovely French exchange student that she invites to live with her will help "rescue" the son. At 7:30 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 6 p.m. Oct. 29.
"The Village Album": The owner of an old photo studio is reunited with his estranged son, who left small-town life behind to work as an assistant photographer in Tokyo. They've been asked to photograph all the families in their village of Hanatani to preserve its collective memory. Named Best Film at the 2005 Shanghai International Film Festival. At 8 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9 p.m. Oct. 28.
"Neighbor No. 13": Music video director Inoue Yasuo has made a stylized cinematic exercise in psycho-suspense, billed as a combination of "Oldboy" and "Fight Club." A man once relentlessly bullied by a classmate has his vengeance 10 years later, when his violent alter ego finds the former bully and his family in a nearby apartment. For fans of the Japanese pop band (and Cartoon Network stars) Puffy AmiYumi, Yumi Yoshimura stars as the former bully's wife. At 10:15 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9:15 p.m. Oct. 29.
"Lord of the Rings" star David Wenham returns as an honest, compassionate man who finds himself with a wife, child and the titular money. The film initially unfolds as a "detective story of the heart," as Wenham's character investigates pieces of his life to make sense his predicament. At 6:15 p.m., Hawaii Theatre.
"Tre": Hawaii-born Eric Byler continues to develop the anti-romantic themes of his well-received "Charlotte Sometimes." Mid-Pacific Institute/UH product Kimberly-Rose Walter co-wrote and stars in Byler's tale of erotic temptation and moral ambiguity. At 8 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 7:45 p.m. Oct. 28.
"U-Carmen eKhayelithsha": Guest Roger Ebert makes his "critic's choice," having seen this South African film at Cannes. He calls it "a vivid version, bursting with life, of the Bizet opera, translated into the Khosa language and sung by the magnificent Pauline Malafane and directed by Mark Dornford-May." At 9 p.m., Dole Cannery.
"Legend of the Light and Shadow":
This documentary captures the first century of Chinese film history, focusing on Shanghai, the first city in China to show movies in public and where its first movie stars were nurtured. The film will be preceded by the screening of an archival print of "Labor's Love,"
the popular short film from 1922 that presented a picture of Chinese daily life. At 6 p.m., Doris Duke Theatre.
An Evening of Hawaiian Film & Music: featuring the premieres of Eddie Kamae's "Keepers of the Flame" and Heather Giugni's "Aloha Live: On the Road with Willie K. and Amy Gilliom." Kamae's film is a tribute to three Hawaiian female icons -- Mary Kawena Pukui, Iolani Luahine and Edith Kanakaole, while Giugni documents the duo's last mainland tour in 2003. Willie and Amy and the Sons of Hawai'i will perform. At 6:15 p.m., Hawaii Theatre. Tickets are $12.
Special Focus on Toei Film Studios: The special presentation continues with Kinji Fukasaku's visually splendid 1978 epic "Shogun's Samurai," starring festival guest Sonny Chiba and Toshiro Mifune. At 8:15 p.m., Doris Duke Theatre.
Two more Toei movies will shown the next day, the 28th: "Red Peony Gambler: Flower Cards Match," the third in the eight-film series starring Junko Fujii as a traveling card player and female yakuza in 1890s Japan (6 p.m.) and Tomu Uchida's wildly stylized fable "The Mad Fox" from 1962 (8:15 p.m.).
The Eastman Kodak Seminar with Russell Boyd:
The cinematographer helped put Australia on the moviemaking map with such films as "Picnic on Hanging Rock," "Gallipoli" and "The Year of Living Dangerously." Boyd was also lensman for the upcoming "Ghost Rider," starring Nicolas Cage, based on the Marvel Comics character. At 3:30 p.m., Dole Cannery.
Boyd's most recent film, the well-received "Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World," directed by Peter Weir and starring Russell Crowe, screens at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Dole Cannery.
"Mirrormask": "Sandman" comic co-conspirators Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean team up with the Jim Henson company to create a magical world with opposing kingdoms, one in perpetual light and the other in constant darkness. When an imbalance occurs, it's up to a teenage girl to find the Mirrormask and realign the balance of power. It's a combination of live action with digital animation. At 8 p.m., Dole Cannery; also 9 p.m. Oct. 29.
"River Queen," made in New Zealand, screens on Oct. 29.
This costume drama is set against the haunting interior landscape of New Zealand. An Irish surgeon's daughter falls in love with a Maori boy; the two have a child. After her lover dies of influenza, the Maori tribe kidnaps the child to raise him acccording to the traditions of their society. Samantha Morton, Kiefer Sutherland, Cliff Curtis, Stephen Rea and Temuera Morrison star. At 6 p.m., Hawaii Theatre.
"Year One in the North":
Veteran actress Sayuri Yoshinaga and Japan's newest star, Ken Watanabe, star in a tale about a Meiji-era clan woman trying to carve out a new life in the inhospitable climes of northern Hokkaido. At 4 p.m., Dole Cannery.