Star-Bulletin Features

Monday, October 25, 1999

The 1999 Hawaii Film Festival poster was designed
by Milici Valenti Ng Pack Advertising.

HIFF courts symbolism

By Tim Ryan


IN a picture-postcard image of a sunset-lit Diamond Head, two middle-age tourists clad in leis and swimsuits stroll along the water's edge in Waikiki when they're surprised by a giant sword-swinging HIFF Logosamurai rising from the shallows.

This isn't some orchestrated attack against visitors, but the rather esoteric image on the this year's Hawaii International Film Festival's poster, a major departure from previous years.

(Last year's poster featured the swim-suit clad former Miss Universe Brook Lee sitting atop a steamer trunk in a 1920s reminiscence of Hawaii.)

The new poster was designed by Milici Valenti Ng Pack Advertising and developed as part of HIFF's overall 1999 media campaign.

Here's the concept, according to the ad agency's assistant account executive Chris Dodds, who worked on the campaign with assistant account exec Alan Cannon: Hawaii is usually marketed as a beautiful, quiet tropical place. The concept was to take that idea but illustrate that once a year, something world class arrives here to stir up the environment.

"The samurai represents the embodiment of Asian films and this film festival," Dodds said. "The samurai is used to recall images of actors like Toshiro Mifume, those samurai movies and Asian films in general."

The samurai -- local actor Herman Chan -- on the color poster is in black and white, symbolizing older Asian films, Dodds said. The two tourists are Shirley Calvert and Don Pomes.

Other images were considered by the agency, including Godzilla -- "too expensive for the rights" -- and a traditionally dressed Chinese woman -- "too fashion magazine like."

Like Godzilla, though, the samurai is rising out of the ocean depths.

The design process started in July; the 1,000 posters were printed earlier this month.

The photos for the poster were taken by Hawaii photographer Linda Ching. Buildings stacked along Diamond Head's Gold Coast were digitally removed from the photo taken in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

The television commercial for HIFF is similar in theme to the poster, Dodds said.

Another happy tourist couple -- not on a beach and not the same ones in the poster -- sit together drinking when the samurai appears, disrupting the tranquil scene.

The posters are $10; $8 for HIFF members.


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