Saturday, November 6, 1999

By George F. Lee, Star-Bulletin
"Surfing for Life" creator David Brown, left, shares the stage
with film subjects Anona Napoleon, Woody Brown
and Rabbit Kekai.

Surfing film wins
top HIFF award

By Tim Ryan


"Surfing for Life," a story described by jurors as a "wise and refreshing perspective on growing old," has been awarded the prestigious Golden Maile Award for Best Documentary at the 19th annual Hawaii International Film Festival.

HIFF LogoThe 73-minute feature, produced and directed by David Brown, features several living legends of the surfing world, including Hawaii's Rabbit Kekai and Woody Brown. It also was honored as best documentary in the Blockbuster Video Audience Awards category.

Golden Maile and other HIFF award winners were announced last night at a gala at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. A panel of five judges said they honored Brown's work "for its artistry and celebratory spirit; its vivid gallery of singular subjects; and for its resonant use of surfing as a metaphor for life."

The Golden Maile for Best Feature Film went to the Australian comedy "Siam Sunset" for promoting cross-cultural understanding. The film was directed by John Polson.

Jury Chairman David Ansen said the judges gave the film the award "for its delightful balance between humor, horror and absurdity; for bridging the gap between personal and popular filmmaking; and for telling the story of a man's comeback from the edge of despair with irreverence, originality and black comic brio."

"Red Turtle Rising," directed by Maui filmmaker Jay April, took top honors in the Aloha Airlines Hawaii Film & Videomaker Award.

The 53-minute documentary was honored, said judge Koa Lake, because of its "innovative approach to the subject matter" of protecting the Hawaiian hawkbill turtle.

"The filmmaker used a playful style to make his point combining scientific opinions with cultural practitioners and reenactment of Hawaiian legend," said Lake, who served on the Hawaiian Filmmakers Selection Committee with playwrights Victoria Nalani Kneubuhl and Alani Apio.

Jiang Wu won the Special Jury Award for his performance in the nominated feature from China, "A Beautiful New World."

Christopher Doyle received the Eastman Kodak Vision Award for Excellence in Cinematography. Doyle has collaborated with many of Asia's top filmmakers, including Chen Kaige on "Temptress Moon," Stanley Kwan on "Red Rose/White Rose," and most notably, Wong Kar-wai on "Chungking Express."

Other Blockbuster Video Audience Award winners include:

Bullet "In a Savage Land" (Australia) in the Feature Film category.

Bullet "Peep Show" in the Short Film division.

The Golden Maile Award winners will be shown Sunday at the Dole Cannery theatres:

Bullet "Surfing for Life" at 3:15 p.m., Dole Cannery No. 9.

Bullet "Red Turtle Rising" at 3:45, 6:45 and 9:45 p.m., Dole Cannery No. 7, along with "Stories from the Seventh Fire," a Cree animated short from Canada.

Bullet "Siam Sunset" at 6:15 p.m., Dole Cannery No. 9.

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