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Digifest 2011: Watch 20+ Asian American feature-length films

Drama Fever and San Diego Asian Film Foundation present Digifest 2011, a selection of 20+ Asian American feature-length films streaming online for free until this December! HIFF has shown many of these films in the past, including narrative films CHILDREN OF INVENTION (Puma Emerging Filmmaker Award, 2009), OWL AND THE SPARROW (NETPAC Award, 2007) and documentary films CATS OF MIRIKITANI and WHATEVER IT TAKES. HIFF’s audience is similar to the SDAFF audience, so we thought you would be interested in watching these films.

DIGIFEST 2011: Watch 20+ Asian American feature-length films


HIFF Key Art Cat’s out of the bag: THE DESCENDANTS is our Closing Film 2011. The much-anticipated Payne/Clooney project based off the book by local author Kaui Hart Hemmings is going to be a guarantee sell-out. As a ~*Native Hawaiian~*~ who went to Kamehameha and sucks at math, just trust me on these things, ‘kay?

Here’s a recent review out of Variety…


Some highlights from the article:

Woodley, best known for her work on ABC Family’s soapy “The Secret Life of the American Teenager,” is a revelation in the role of Alex, displaying both the edge and depth the role demands.

…never descends to griefsploitation…carefully [selecting] moments that reveal the characters’ ever-changing emotions without wallowing in their pain. …There’s also an unexpected amount of humor to be found in the circumstances immediately surrounding a loved one’s death, and [Payne] embraces both contradictions with due respect.

“The Descendants” is one of those satisfying, emotionally rich films that works on multiple levels. Some will call their travel agents to book Hawaiian vacations as soon as they dry their eyes (just as “Sideways” boosted wine-tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley), while more cynical auds should find layers to engage their sensibilities as well. Of particular interest is the way Payne allows class and race to supply an interesting, albeit subtle, subtext.

That last sentence is particularly intriguing. As it takes place in Hawai‘i, was shot in Hawai‘i, and is soon to screen in Hawai‘i, guarantee our HIFF audiences will be especially heightened to reading into its narrative, which is always exciting for any film.


Good morning! (In hungover speak, 2:01pm is a still the “morning,” comprende?)

If you’re aware that it’s a long Labor Day weekend like me, then there’s a 80%-Patron proof chance you’re slugging it with your body right now. Sssssssucks, bros, I know, but time for an in-house film festival remedy for you. What they don’t teach doctors in med school is that Alone Time over a soy latte + an Advil mixed with an ample dose of a Good Trailer is just what the nervous system orders; the sort of trailer that simultaneously numbs and stimulates the senses. MMMMmmmmm…uuuggghhhgaaaahgroanvomit.

Here are 4 picture-perfect mooOOOoooOody sights and sounds that’ll put your temples at ease – HIFF Rx approved.

1. RESTLESS // directed by Gus Van Sant

Gus Van Sant is a MOOD MACHINE. Mia Wachowski’s ethereal face meets touch of Asian ghost story whimsy sans kabuki plus delicate teenagers handing hands running over train tracks into well-lit hallways and don’t you just want to fall into a bed of crispy autumn leaves or something?! This movies look really ~*~sensitive~*~ which we could also say about our livers.

#2. WEEKEND // directed by Andrew Haigh

This looks good; we want to see this – if only for the fact it looks like it was shot in a cloud and being in a cloud would feel so f-ing nice right now. There’s few things quiet, talky films with sharp dialogue can’t cure in a hangover situation. Meaning, just ask the two dudes in this film who we’re puh-retty sure woke up with hangovers themselves, so hello, art imitating life/blog! WEEKEND is reminding us of other recent indies like MEDICINE FOR MELANCHONY or IN SEARCH OF A MIDNIGHT KISS and those were pretty good too.

Two more visual pills after the plunge…

Ten more films revealed for HIFF 31 presented by Halekulani

We had our membership appreciation of SENNA last night, and there was a fairly good turnout. Before the film, we showed trailers for 10 additional films that will be featured in the HIFF 31 presented by Halekulani lineup. See these trailers below. The announcement of the full program of films and schedule will be coming mid-September. Tickets will go on sale September 29th for members and October 3rd for the general public.

Membership Appreciation Screening at Dole Cannery – August 31

SENNA poster

HIFF is planning a membership appreciation screening at Regal Dole Cannery on Wednesday, August 31 at 6:30pm. It will be free for all current members (as of Fall 2010), and anyone who signs up for a membership will be admitted. In addition, anyone purchasing or renewing a membership in person at the event will receive a 15% discount. Get a 10% discount for all HIFF memberships purchased online by entering RENEW in the discount code field, from now until the end of August.


directed by Lynne Ramsay | View Trailer
Presented by EuroCinema Hawaii

Straight from this year’s Cannes Film Festival, this dark drama stars the incomparable Tilda Swinton as the mother of a teenage boy who went on a high-school killing spree. She tries to deal with her grief — and feelings of responsibility for her child’s actions — by writing to her estranged husband played by John C. Reilly.



directed by David Gelb | View Trailer

In the basement of a Tokyo office building, 85 year old sushi master Jiro Ono works tirelessly in his world renowned restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro. As his son Yoshikazu faces the pressures of stepping into his father’s shoes and taking over the legendary restaurant, Jiro relentlessly pursues his lifelong quest to create the perfect piece of sushi.



directed by Constance Marks | View Trailer

The film traces Kevin Clash’s rise from his modest beginnings in Baltimore to his current success as the man behind Elmo, one of the world’s most recognizable and adored characters. Millions of children tune in daily to watch Elmo, yet when Kevin walks down the street he is not recognized. Pivotal to the film is the exploration of Jim Henson’s meteoric rise, and Kevin’s ultimate achievement of his goal to become part of the Henson family of puppeteers. In addition to puppeteering Elmo, Mr. Clash is arguably the creative force behind today’s Sesame Street, producing, directing and traveling around the globe training other puppeteers. Includes interviews with Frank Oz, Rosie O’Donnell, Whoopi Goldberg, Carroll Spinney, Joan Ganz Cooney, Marty Robinson, Fran Brill, and Bill Barretta.


Tonight is CULTURE + ARTS @ KO OLINA – an outdoor film screening festival for the entire family – screening Steven Spielberg’s 1981 baby RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK. It’s a total classic and if you haven’t seen it then I’m sorry you weren’t hugged as a child.

But here’s your chance…! Your chance to see Harrison Ford in all his bomber jacket glory and wonder what ever happened to Karen Allen she was kinda cool.

Now calm down, I got some Indiana Jones trivia after the jump…

HIFF 2010 Titles Now Available on DVD!

So for those of you eagerly awaiting our Fall 2011 Festival, why not take the time to catch up on all of those Fall 2010 films you missed? Or those 2010 Festival favorites that you’d LOVE to watch again! C’mon, take a break from those summer hits, and cuddle up at home with a DVD and your snack of choice!

As promised, click here for the list of HIFF 2010 Fall Festival films available now on DVD rental through Netflix. Please Note: These are films available through Netflix on DVD-only, please click here to check out 2010 films available on Netflix Instant Streaming that are also available on DVD.


Photo call

I had the pleasure of being invited to a special Tastemakers screening of SNOWFLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN in Los Angeles earlier this week. I was live-blogging from the event on the @HIFF twitter account.

Directed by Wayne Wang (THE JOY LUCK CLUB, CHAN IS MISSING) and based on the acclaimed novel by Lisa See, the film opens in theaters tomorrow, July 15. Aside from Wang and See in attendance, there was also the main lead, Li Bingbing, who flew in from Beijing, as well as executive producers Wendi Deng Murdoch (yep, she’s married to Rupert) and Florence Sloan. Here’s a photo of them on the red carpet.

Photo call

(From L to R: Wendi Deng Murdoch, star Li Bingbing, Wayne Wang, Florence Sloan, Lisa See)


Still pissed about the new Netflix $ubscription rates? Sigh. Well, you might as well just go to the theater and spend more money on movies anyway because if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em? #firstworldrebels

Here’s a shortlist of flicks playing in Honolulu this weekend (or the next)…


I went to advanced screening of this on Tuesday and the girl sitting next to me was crying her snitches off (see it for yourself, Ward Theaters Auditorium 2, she’s still sitting there crying). The movie is good and gonna gross about three Oprahs for sure, but the real question is how long before Hollywood finds it appropriate to remake these films… 20 to 25 months?

More talkies after the jump…

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