Star-Bulletin Features

Friday, October 15, 1999

"Snow Falling on Cedars" premieres at the Hawaii Film
Festival even before its Mainland debut in December.

Expect more provocative,
vibrant HIFF

By Tim Ryan


THE question is: What do actor Ethan Hawke, deceased porn performer John Holmes, critic David Ansen, director Ang Lee, and more than 100 films and videos projected on the side of buildings have in common?

The answer is: What thousands of viewers can see at the 19th annual Hawaii International Film Festival.

"We feel we've reached the right combination of big films like 'Snow Falling on Cedars' and 'Ride with the Devil,' films that are off the beaten path, but just as vibrant and provocative," says Christian Gaines, festival director.

HIFF continues to find strength in its focus: showcasing the diversity and scope of Pacific Rim cinema, Gaines said. "This year, more than ever, our program reflects the best of our core focus and much more," he said.

Showing at this year's Hawaii Film Festival '99
is "That's the Way I Like It."

HIFF '99 will feature 18 American premieres, four world premieres and two international premieres (first screenings outside of the film's home country) between Nov. 5 and 12 on Oahu, before moving to the neighbor islands Nov. 17 through 21.

Long considered the premiere Asia-Pacific film festival in the United States, HIFF also is one of the world's major showcases for films from Asia and the Pacific Rim. It's also the only statewide film festival in the country.

This year's festival will feature more than 100 films from 20 countries, including Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.

The Nov. 5 premiere at the Hawaii Theatre is the much-anticipated film "Snow Falling on Cedars" -- starring Ethan Hawke, Yuki Kudoh and Rick Yune -- based on David Guterson's award-winning, best-selling novel, and directed by Scott Hicks who also directed "Shine." "Snow" is slated for national release at Christmas.

"The Emperor and the Assassin," above.

The post-World War II film explores the lives of Japanese- and Anglo-Americans caught up in a murder trial in a Puget Sound fishing village, and exemplifies HIFF's mission to foster cultural understanding between East and West, Gaines said.

Actors Hawke, Kudoh and Yune are expected to attend the screening and take part in a question-and-answer session following the screening.

During the opening, HIFF will also present a special "Nuuanu Nights" event, featuring live music on two stages, street artists, food and drinks. Films and videos will be screened on building walls and inside various galleries throughout the event, Gaines said.

The closing night film on Oahu is "Ride with the Devil" by director Ang Lee, who also directed "Sense and Sensibility" and "The Ice Storm." "Ride" stars Skeet Ulrich, the singer Jewel and Tobey McGuire.

Other notable films at this year's festival:

Bullet "The Emperor and the Assassin" (China) starring Gong Li;

Bullet "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?" (New Zealand): The sequel to "Once Were Warriors";

Bullet "The Uprising" (Korea) by director Park Kwang-Su who directed HIFF '93 award winner "Our Twisted Hero";

Bullet "That's the Way I Like It" (Singapore) a disco-infused coming-of-age tale;

Bullet and "Princess Mononoke" (Japan) which has been described as an animation masterpiece.

Australian films will include "In The Winter Dark" and "Strange Planet." From Taiwan comes a complex tale of modern-day women, "Woman Soup " and the acclaimed documentary "The Lost Kingdom."

HIFF's "Across the Globe" film section takes the audience beyond Asia Pacific with features like "The Last September" (United Kingdom), "Romance" (France) and "The Wisdom of Crocodiles" (United Kingdom).

A collection of feature comedies and short films are grouped as "The Colors and Flavors of Comedy," featuring everything from a cursed paint manufacturer in the Australian Outback ("Siam Sunset" from Australia) to a man who dreams of becoming Taiwan's first vegetarian president in "The Candidate" from Taiwan.

There will be a sneak preview of the Canadian film "Last Night," 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hawaii Theatre. The film is about the last six hours of the Earth's existence and focuses on a small group of people and how they choose to spend their last hours on Earth.

Tickets are on sale at the theater box office, at $6 general and $5 for Hawaii Film Fans members. The Hawaii Theatre also charges an additional $2 restoration fee per ticket. Call the box office at 528-0506 for more information.



Seven feature films and five documentaries will compete for the Golden Maile Award for the feature film and documentary best promoting cultural understanding.

The nominated feature films are:

Bullet "A Beautiful New World" (China)

Bullet "Don't Look Back" (Japan)

Bullet "Jesus' Son" (USA)

Bullet "Rainbow Trout" (Korea)

Bullet "Siam Sunset" (Australia)

Bullet "Tempting Heart" (Hong Kong)

Bullet "Vanaprastham: The Last Dance" (India)

The nominated documentaries are:

Bullet "American Gypsy" (USA)

Bullet "Battu's Bioscope" (India)

Bullet "The Lost Kingdom" (Taiwan)

Bullet "Punitive Damage" (New Zealand)

Bullet "Surfing for Life" (USA)

The international panel of judges are:

Film critic David Ansen, senior writer and film reviewer for Newsweek magazine; director Peter Chan, of Hong Kong; Kayo Hatta, co-writer and director of the film "Picture Bride"; actress Lisa Lu who has appeared in "The Joy Luck Club," and "The Last Emperor"; Philippines actor Cesar Montano, whose award-winning film "Rizal" became the most successful film in Filipino box office history and was shown at HIFF's 1999 Spring Film Festival.

The Eastman Kodak Award for Excellence in Cinematography this year will go to cinematographer Christopher Doyle whose films include "Beijing Summer," "Chungking Express," "Happy Together," "Psycho" and "Temptress Moon."

Doyle will be in Honolulu to accept the award at a ceremony on Nov. 12 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.


HIFF Program Guides will soon be available in all Starbucks Coffee and Blockbuster Video locations, and in the Oct. 27 issue of Honolulu Weekly. Program Guides are available today to HIFF's Hawaii Film Fans.

Film Fans are guaranteed a 10-day window to select their free tickets and purchase an unlimited number of additional tickets at a discounted price before they go on sale to the public. To join Hawaii Film Fans, call 528-FILM or sign up at

Tickets go on sale to the public on Oct. 27.

Tickets can be purchased by:

Bullet Going to HIFF headquarters in the Shops at Dole Cannery, 2nd floor across from the food court. The box office is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. throughout the festival. The box office telephone number is 528-HIFF.

Bullet On HIFF's Web site (, which will offer the latest program information beginning Oct. 27.

Bullet By phone: 528-HIFF

Bullet Fax: 591-1499

Ticket prices are $6 general; $5 for Hawaii Film Fans, students, and military. Opening night tickets for the Hawaii Theatre film are $10 each. Admission is free to all panels, presentations and special events.

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