Show must go on


POSTED: Friday, October 09, 2009

Even with longtime major corporate sponsor Louis Vuitton no longer in the picture, the Hawaii International Film Festival carries on next week, screening more than 170 films and shorts from 36 countries.

“;We were fortunate to have Louis Vuitton's support for seven wonderful years,”; said executive director Chuck Boller, “;and it's possible that we'll work with them again in the future. But we realized at the end of last year that the economy was going bad ... so we cut into our own operating budget and we're doing OK without them.”;

The festival also turned to the Internet to help with publicity, adding trailers for individual films and additional software to allow filmgoers to create their own screening schedules.

“;It's fortunate that the festival is a product that people like and see its value,”; Boller said. “;A good place to go to see the other side of the festival will be the HIFF Cafe across the street from the Dole Cannery multiplex.

“;There, people can have after-film discussions and mix with our staff and some of our 150 national and international guests that include press people from abroad, actors, directors and producers.”;


HAWAII ITSELF will also be a highlight at this year's festival.

Oct. 17 will be a major day for fans of ABC's “;Lost,”; with master classes by the show's behind-the-scenes workers held throughout the afternoon at Dole Cannery. The day will conclude with a panel featuring executive producers and co-writers Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof, and yet-to-be-announced cast members, at the Royal Hawaiian Center's Royal Hawaiian Theater.

And considering the state budget drama surrounding the Hawaii Film Office, the upcoming panel on the “;State of the Film Industry in Hawaii”; on Oct. 24 should be an interesting one. State Film Commissioner Donne Dawson, whose job and those of her office staff are on the line, is scheduled to participate.

Dismay by some members of the Hawaiian community has already been raised over the title of “;Barbarian Princess,”; the story of Princess Kaiulani that will get its world premiere at HIFF Oct. 16 (the princess's birthday) at Hawaii Theatre. Written and directed by Marc Forby of Trailblazer Films, it stars former Hawaii childhood resident Q'orianka Kilcher — who made her name in Terrence Malick's 2005 film “;The New World”; opposite Colin Farrell — in the title role.

Star-Bulletin film and TV writer Katherine Nichols originally reported in March that a group of Hawaiians led by Palani Vaughan found the once-working title as “;offensive and derogatory,”; with “;(a) flagrantly flawed script that contrives a mix of historical truth and fictitiously invented history.”;

“;I know that Hawaiian experts were hired by the film's producers to ensure the story was accurate,”; Boller said. “;I've already seen the movie, and I can tell you it's a very pleasant story about an extraordinary person, a heroic but tragic figure in Hawaiian history.

“;Despite the controversy surrounding the title, 'Barbarian Princess' fits our festival's criteria for inclusion because it's a well-made movie made in Hawaii.”;


FILMS COMPETING for this year's Halekulani Golden Orchid Award include two documentaries made by local filmmakers.

Veteran documentarian Tom Coffman will present “;Ninoy & the Rise of People Power,”; an eyewitness account about the power struggle between Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos and opposition leader Senator Benigno “;Ninoy”; Aquino Jr. Anne Misawa of the University of Hawaii's Academy for Creative Media directed and produced “;State of Aloha,”; part of the Hawai'i Statehood Project.

The remaining documentary nominees include “;Blast!”; (about a team of astrophysicists trying to launch a telescope via balloon in Antarctica), “;Petition”; (Chinese people who wait months or years at Beijing complaint offices about abuses and injustices committed by local authorities) and “;Rio Breaks”; (youngsters from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's slums trying to become pro surfers).

Narrative feature nominees are “;24K”; (taken from the true story of a treasure hunt for Japanese-occupation riches in the Philippines), “;Across the River”; (a cameraman is the sole witness of a power struggle between two stranded soldiers, one Iraqi and the other Iranian), “;Castaway on the Moon”; (a curious woman becomes fascinated with a man stranded on an island in the middle of Korea's Han River after his failed suicide attempt), “;Empire of Silver”; (a hedonistic young man is caught in a tense relationship between his ruthless banker father and beautiful young stepmother in late-19th-century China) and “;John Rabe”; (a German businessman who relocated to China in the early 1900s and tries to provide refuge from the imperial Japanese army after the Nanking bombing of 1937).

Earlier this week, director of programming Anderson Le offered additional highlights from the festival. New to HIFF is the Emerging Filmmakers Award, with seven nominees, all made by young filmmakers in their 20s.

Le also mentioned that time slots set aside as “;to be announced”; are filling up with films that didn't make the festival guide's publishing deadline.

“;So far, we'll be showing two documentaries,”; he said. “;One is 'How to Live Forever' from Mark Wexler, the son of the famous cinematographer Haskell Wexler. He speaks to all kinds of elder people on their insights into health, fitness and life extension.

“;The other is 'The Third Wave,' narrated by Sean Penn, who got it a special screening at this year's Cannes Film Festival. It was shot by American and Australian volunteers after the 2004 Asian tsunami disaster who flew to Sri Lanka to try to help. One of the people behind the film, Doug Kennedy, has Hawaii ties.

“;Another will probably be a late-night screening that will celebrate Halloween. It's a great horror film called 'The House of the Devil.' It's shot like some lost horror film from 1982 and has gotten rave reviews,”; Le said.




29th Annual Hawaii International Film Festival

        » Where: Regal Dole Cannery theaters, Hawaii Theatre, the Royal Hawaiian Theater and Sunset on the Beach

        » When: Thursday through Oct. 25

        » Cost: $10 general admission; $9 for students, seniors, children and military; $8 for HIFF Ohana members

        » Info: 548-5905 or www.hiff.org