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
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
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
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.”