ASSOCIATED PRESS / 1998
Pierce Brosnan of 007 fame will be given the Maui Film Festival's Maverick Award in a ceremony Thursday night.
Maui Film Festival rides a big wave
The five-day event has made a name for itself in the movie industry
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Maui's annual celebration of filmdom begins Wednesday as the Maui Film Festival opens in Wailea.
The event will honor Pierce Brosnan with the Maverick Award for a filmmaking career that most famously includes a series of James Bond movies.
Also due to accept awards are Felicity Huffman, Virginia Madsen and Dennis Quaid.
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People in the know call it the Sundance of the Pacific, or SandDance, and it's gained enough clout to attract an impressive list of celebrities (who probably don't mind chilling in Wailea) every year for a full inventory of top-quality movies, red-carpet affairs and fine cuisine.
Maui Film Festival
» Dates: Wednesday through Sunday
» Place: Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa and the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului
» Tickets: $10 in advance, $12 at the door for film screenings. Dining events are additional.
» Call: 572-3456
» For full schedule: Visit www.mauifilmfestival.com
The five-day soiree that is the Maui Film Festival begins Wednesday with Taste of the Islands. Following the gourmet opening reception is an outdoor screening of "Bottle Shock," a comedy/drama that takes viewers back to the inception of the California wine industry, when products of the West began to challenge more established vintages from France -- an historic moment for oenophiles.
Former 007 Pierce Brosnan, desperate housewife Felicity Huffman (better known in indie circles for her Academy Award-nominated performance in "Transamerica"), Academy Award nominee Virginia Madsen ("Sideways") and Dennis Quaid (earning rave reviews for his performance in the recent "Smart People") will partake in the events, stroll the red carpet and receive recognition for their contributions to the film industry.
Past recipients of festival honors include William Hurt, Greg Kinnear, Joan Allen and Claire Danes, all of whom have attended the 11-year-old festival.
"There tends to be a very diverse group of skilled actors who show up," said Christina Simpkins, who worked with writer/director Brett Wagner and producer Dana Hankins on the short film "Chief," which debuted at Sundance and will screen on Maui. Festival director Barry Rivers "has managed to create something that conveys a vibrant balance between the glamorous red carpet and intelligent, well-done films yet also possesses that Hawaiiana feel to it." As a result, it's gained prestige in the film world.
Also headed for Maui: Felicity Huffman.
Dennis Quaid (right with Topher Grace in "In Good Company".)
She also believes the festival provides an excellent opportunity for Hawaii filmmakers to network with mainland players. "His efforts only help the film industry here," Simpkins said of Rivers. "He's creating momentum." Beyond that, "there's a feeling that you can't get at any other festival -- one of intimacy and support, and people inspiring each other with their work."
Though prices for individual screenings are reasonable, Louis Vuitton is sponsoring a free showing of "Phoebe in Wonderland" at 8 p.m. Friday at the Maui SkyDome, following a special tribute to Felicity Huffman, who stars in the movie. Tickets will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
The festival closes Sunday night with the outdoor screening of "Down the Barrel," featuring eight-time surfing world champion Kelly Slater, Kalani Robb, Joel Parkinson and Rob Machado. Another surf-inspired film at the festival is "Water Man," which trails legends Laird Hamilton and Gerry Lopez on their quest for the perfect wave in Indonesia.
Attendees can forget about popcorn and Junior Mints during or between screenings. After the opening reception ($270), they can attend a "Starry Night MoonDance" at local hot spot Tommy Bahama Tropical Cafe at the Shops at Wailea on Thursday night ($75), the "Taste of Chocolate" at the Four Seasons Resort Maui on Friday ($180) and the sweeping "Taste of Wailea," featuring Maui chefs, on Saturday ($210). To celebrate Father's Day on Sunday, Makana will perform at the Celestial Cinema. Tickets purchased in advance cost less.
Virginia Madsen (with Billy Bob Thornton in "The Astronaut Farmer").