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by Natalie P. McGeehan, student writer

Last fall, HIFF screened 260 films from more than 40 countries including Brazil, Germany, North and South Korea, and Japan. These were in a variety of categories, including Adrenaline Cinema, Big Nights, Comedy Focus, Eastern Showcase, Extreme Asia, Filipino Focus, Indie Spirit, Nominated Documentary, Nominated Feature, Short Program, Vietnam Redux, and Western Showcase.

Some of the more important titles that debuted last fall include: Brokeback Mountain, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger; Jim Henson’s Mirror Mask; The Matador, starring Greg Kinnear and Pierce Bronsnan; and Lee Byun-hun’s A Bittersweet Life.

This year 256 films from a record -breaking 47 countries will showcase during the 10 day run of the festival.

The opening night feature presentation will be Babel, starring Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchette, in which a shot fired in the Moroccan desert starts a series of events that upend the lives of an American tourist couple. Babel was shot on three different continents and is in English, Arabic, Japanese, and Spanish. It will screen at the Hawai‘i Theatre Oct. 19 at 8 p.m.

Many films make their national and international debut at HIFF. This season’s international debuts include Marrying the Mafia 3: Rebirth of the Family, about a Korean crime lord, Mrs. Hong, whose daughter-in-law aims to destroy her and her budding kim chee empire.

Having its U.S. premier is Banquet, directed by Feng Xiaogang and staring Ziyi Zhang. An adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Banquet is set in 10th-century China, where an empress schemes to murder the emperor.

The festival’s centerpiece and Hawai‘i premiere film is Korean horror film The Host. A toxic spill in Seoul contaminates the Han River creating a mutant creature that emerges to terrorize the city.
Backstage, is a French film about a teenager obsessed with a pop star who resembles Debbie Harry (Blondie). The film explores the different perspectives of celebrity-obsessed culture.
Festival Video iPod showcases international indie music videos at Next Door on Oct 24.

HIFF also holds seminars, panel discussion, and student workshops. The cast and crew of ABC’s Lost will participate in a panel discussion again this year. The forum topic is Television is the New Cinema.

Visual communication majors will not want to miss the Kodak Cinematographer Seminar hosted by Matthew Libatique, the Sony Digital HD Workshop.

A new program this year is Deep Focus: a question-and-answer forum in which the audience will be able to ask filmmakers questions about what they have seen during the festival.

A special tribute will be paid to Kevin Smith (Dogma, Clerks I and II) and Ken Watanabe (The Last Samurai, Batman Begins) at the award show held Oct. 26 at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel Monarch Room.

“ An Evening with Ken Watanabe” following a screening of The Last Samurai, will be held at Dole Theatre Oct. 27 at 7:15 p.m., and “An Evening with Kevin Smith” will take place at the Hawai‘i Theatre in October 28 at 7:30 p.m.

Celebrities planning to attend this year’s festival include Bai Ling, Dan the Automator, Shin Hyeon-joon, Kevin Smith, Terry O’ Quinn, and Ken Watanabe.

Dayna Kalakau, 20, an HPU undergraduate and public relations/advertising major said,“I’ve lived in Hawai‘i all my life and I hadn’t heard about HIFF until I began college. I’ve always liked things that weren’t so mainstream—stories that aren’t usually told—though I haven’t always had the opportunity to indulge in them. Perhaps the films I see this year at HIFF will offer me that chance.”


Kalamalama, the HPU Student Newspaper. All rights reserved.

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