Established in 1981, the Hawai’i International Film Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of cultural exchange and media awareness in the Pacific Rim. HIFF is a premier international film event that has won the praise of governments, filmmakers, scholars, educators, programmers and film industry leaders across the globe. HIFF’s programming has two particular mandates: to be a festival of record for emerging films from Asia and the Pacific, and to present the top festival films from around the world, annually screening films from over 45 countries. HIFF also presents content and panels in the fields of film and music, and mobile entertainment and gaming. These transmedia programs reflect HIFF’s commitment to exhibiting innovative creative content coming from the Asia Pacific Rim.
- Is an official partner with Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) for Oscar Night America.
- Is the sister festival of Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) & Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group (SMEG).
HIFF started as a project of the East-West Center, an educational and research institution created by U.S. Congress and located on the University of Hawai`i Manoa campus in Honolulu. Jeannette Paulson Hereniko was HIFF’s Founding Director, from 1981 to 1996.
The first HIFF screened seven films from six countries to an audience of 5,000. The year was 1981. Today, HIFF is the a premiere cinematic event in the Pacific that has had more than one dozen screening sites on six Hawaiian Islands and draws an audience of 80,000 or more from around the state, the nation and throughout the world.
HIFF is unique in discovering features, documentaries and shorts from Asia made by Asians, films about the Pacific made by Pacific Islanders, and films made by Hawai`i filmmakers that present Hawai`i in a culturally accurate way.
Each year in preparation for the event, HIFF programmers view some 1,000 films and choose an average of 150 features, documentaries and film shorts. Among them are world premieres, North American premieres, U.S. premieres, experimental films, animation and digital works representing social and ethnic issues, and first features by new directors.
HIFF also conducts seminars, workshops, special award presentation receptions with top Asian, Pacific and North American filmmakers participating.
Since its inception, more than 950,000 people from throughout the world have shared HIFF film screenings and insights.
HIFF audiences reflect the diverse multi-cultural face of Hawaii. For example, Chinese Americans see films from Japan; Japanese Americans see films from Korea. In so doing, HIFF helps to enrich, enlighten and broaden support for Asian and Pacific films by HIFF members, film festival fans and new audiences alike.
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