HIFF greets spring with diverse global lineup


POSTED: Friday, April 03, 2009

A particularly strong lineup of films from all over the world will be featured at this year's Hawaii International Film Festival Spring Showcase, always the appetizer leading up to the festival's main course. (Its larger fall event is coming up in mid-October.)





        Place: Regal Dole Cannery multiplex

Time: Friday through April 9


Tickets: $10 and $9 military, students and seniors


Call: 550-8457 or visit




Since the print schedule's release, there have been changes in the lineup. The critically acclaimed Italian Mafia feature “;Gomorrah”; is out and three films have been added: the locally made short “;Ma'ili Land: Stories of Hope”;; the Japanese horror-comedy “;Yamagata Scream”;; and “;Burma VJ,”; a documentary about a brave group of video reporters who risk their lives to expose the repressive dictatorship ruling their country.

Burma became international headline news in 2007 when Buddhist monks led a massive rebellion against the government. The peaceful religious order is also the subject of a remarkable and moving documentary in the lineup, “;Unmistaken Child.”; It's a quietly told yet riveting story of a disciple's search through the rugged terrain of Tibet for the reincarnation of his master in a village infant. How the disciple finds the old soul in a little boy after a four-year search, and the bond he forms with his little “;master,”; takes on an immensely spiritual tone. Effectively capturing the essence of Tibet in its landscape, people and culture, “;Unmistaken Child”; could turn out to be one of the hits of the showcase.

;[Preview]  Hawaii International Film Festival

The Hawaii International Film Festival kicks off it's Spring showcase with 25 films from more than 10 countries, including animated and martial arts films from China.

Watch  ]


The schedule:

» ”;20th Century Boys Part I”; (Japan/6:30 p.m. Monday and 3 p.m. Tuesday) and Part II (6:15 p.m. Tuesday and 3 p.m. Wednesday): See review.

» ”;Birdwatchers”; (Italy/Brazil/8:45 p.m. Sunday): A drama about a group of indigenous natives who decide to leave their restricted reservation in Brazil and return to the land of their forefathers—now occupied by wealthy plantation owners who allow bird-watching tourists on “;their”; property.

» ”;Burma VJ”; (Denmark/9:15 p.m. Tuesday): See article intro.

» ”;Evangelion 1.0: You Are (Not) Alone”; (Japan/3 p.m. Sunday): The first of four planned animated features, it retells roughly the first six episodes of the influential apocalyptic mecha TV series “;Neon Genesis Evangelion.”;

» ”;Food Inc.”; (U.S./6:15 p.m. Friday and noon Saturday): How much do we really know about the food we buy at our local supermarkets? The documentary lifts the veil on our country's food industry, exposing the highly mechanized underbelly that's been hidden from the consumer with the consent of the government's regulatory agencies.

» ”;Ghajini”; (India/6:30 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. April 9): India's highest-grossing movie of all time, this 2008 Bollywood film was inspired by the hit “;Memento.”; A businessman loses his short-term memory following a violent encounter that results in his girlfriend's death. He tries to avenge her killing with the aid of Polaroid photos and tattoos on his body. (The film features six songs by the prolific A.R. Rahman, who became familiar to U.S. audiences for his score for the multiple Oscar-winning “;Slumdog Millionaire.”;)

» ”;Gu-Gu the Cat”; (Japan/3:15 p.m. Saturday and 8:45 p.m. April 9): A manga artist is devastated by the death of her cat, which kept her company for more than 15 years. She can no longer concentrate on her work—that is, until a new kitten enters the lives of both the artist and her assistants.

» ”;Ichi”; (Japan/8:30 p.m. Friday and 3:15 p.m. Monday): A reimagining of the popular Zatoichi story, with Haruka Ayase starring as a blind woman who roams from town to town with her shamisen. When a village becomes hostage to two opposing clans, she reveals her deadly swordsplay to help protect the innocent villagers.

» ”;Luck By Chance”; (India/12:15 p.m. Sunday and 6:30 p.m. Wednesday): A satirical but affectionate tale of the Bollywood film industry, as a fresh-faced actor from New Delhi and his girlfriend—still waiting for her own big break despite living in Mumbai for a few years—try to become movie stars in a world of heated ego battles and jealousies.

» ”;Ma'ili Land: Stories of Hope”; (Hawaii/11 a.m. Saturday): As originally reported by our local film/TV columnist Katherine Nichols, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Honolulu will sponsor this screening of three shorts directed and produced by 10 youngsters who live at the Leeward transitional housing land project. One of the featured shorts, “;Friendship,”; is about a once-homeless boy struggling with his peers after moving into transitional housing. (Admission $5, and a Q&A session will follow the screening.)

» ”;Marine Boy”; (South Korea/6:15 p.m. Wednesday and 3 p.m. April 9): A former swimming athlete, desperately in debt, decides to become a drug mule by swimming waters between Korea and Japan. Along the way, he meets a mysterious beauty who has been tracking him. The two of them then plot to swindle the swimmer's moneylender and take the drug money for themselves.

» ”;Night and Day”; (South Korea/France/6 p.m. Tuesday and 3:15 p.m. Wednesday): A painter lives in exile in Paris, on the lam after getting caught smoking pot with some American tourists back in Seoul. Not speaking a word of French, the painter joins a floating group of Korean ex-pats and exchange students. When he meets an art student and her roommate, could there be love in the air for the 40ish, married artist—or is it just Paris?

» ”;Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi”; (India/6:15 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Monday): Translating its Hindi title, “;A Match Made in Heaven”; is a romantic comedy about a mild-mannered office worker who transforms himself into a suave and dashing dancer in order to win the love of a beautiful and vivacious woman.

» ”;The Sky Crawlers”; (Japan/6 p.m. Sunday and 9 p.m. Wednesday): An animated adaptation of a popular manga series of books set in an alternate history, following the journeys and tribulations of a group of young fighter pilots.

» ”;The Song of Sparrows”; (Iran/12:15 p.m. Saturday): From acclaimed director Majid Majidi, it's the story of a simple man who loses his job at an ostrich farm and then travels to Tehran, where he starts his new job of moving people and goods through heavy traffic on his motorcycle. But the job starts to transform his inherently generous and honest nature for the worse, much to the distress of his wife and daughters.

» ”;Summer Hours”; (France/6:15 p.m. Monday and 3:15 p.m. Tuesday): Olivier Assayas' latest film is a bittersweet elegy about love and memory and the ways in which we hold them. Three adult siblings who have grown apart reunite at their late mother's home to decide what to do with the family house, filled with artwork from their grandfather, a celebrated artist whose legacy hangs over the family.

» ”;Tokyo Sonata”; (Japan/6 p.m. Saturday and noon Sunday): See review.

» ”;Treeless Mountain”; (South Korea/3:15 and 6:15 p.m. April 9): With cinematography by the University of Hawaii's Academy for Creative Media assistant professor Anne Misawa, the film tells the dreamlike story of a 6-year-old girl and her younger sister coping with loss when their single mother leaves them with a diffident aunt.

» ”;Unmistaken Child”; (Israel/3 p.m. Saturday and 3:30 p.m. Sunday): See article intro.

» ”;Wushu: The Young Generation”; (China/8:45 p.m. Saturday and 9:15 p.m. Tuesday): Co-produced by Jackie Chan and starring his friend and fellow martial arts icon Sammo Hung, the movie follows the lives of a group of friends who go to an elite, small-town martial arts school where the father of two of them is played by Hung. As the group reaches their graduation year, and with the provincial team selection looming for the championships, their friendship is tested and they are forced to face the ills of the outside world in the form of child kidnappings and illegal fight matches.

» ”;Yamagata Scream”; (Japan/9:15 p.m. Sunday): See review.