Latest Blog Posts

Closing Night Film: MICMACS


HIFF’s Closing Night film for Spring Showcase this year is MICMACS, by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet. He is widely known for his previous works AMÉLIE (2001) and A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT (2004), both starring the fabulous Audrey Tautou. The film is playing Thursday, April 22 at 6:15pm at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theaters. See photos and a trailer from MICMACS.

Spring Showcase In Depth: Food & Drink Films

To continue our “In Depth” series, today we’re focusing on Spring Showcase films that have a food/drink theme. These are: BLOOD INTO WINE, CAFE SEOUL, THE CHEF OF SOUTH POLAR, and TODAY’S SPECIAL. Read more after the break about these four films and how they’ll make you hungry or thirsty when you leave the movie theater.


[img_assist|nid=284|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=165|height=240]Did you know that grapes will grow in Arizona? We didn’t either. If you watch BLOOD INTO WINE you can find out how musician Maynard James Keenan (TOOL, A Perfect Circle) and winemaker Eric Glomski are making wines in Verde Valley, north of Phoenix. This documentary also features Milla Jovovich, Fairuza Balk, Bob Odenkirk and Patton Oswalt.

Their co-founded label is AZ Stronghold, while Keenan has two other vineyards, Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards, all located in Arizona. The website for Caduceus is definitely worth a look, it features an excellent design. We can tell that they’re in it for the love of making wine, not just to make some money.


[img_assist|nid=285|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=183|height=240]CAFE SEOUL is a Japanese/South Korean co-production, directed by Take Masaharu and starring Kim Dong-wook (COFFEE PRINCE), Kim Jung-hoon (GOONG), Choi Sung-min, and Saito Takumi (male lead in VAMPIRE GIRL VS FRANKENSTEIN GIRL). The film is about a small confectionary shop in Seoul called “Peony Hall”, run by the eldest of three brothers. The brothers have been living separate lives since their parents were killed in a car accident. When the shop is in danger due to the owner being harrassed by local gangsters, the brothers pull together and reconnect as a family.

If you liked ANTIQUE (Korean film based on a Japanese manga), then i’m sure you’ll like CAFE SEOUL as well. Something to take note of is that Korea is becoming a more attractive place for foreign film productions. Another Spring Showcase 2010 film, A BRAND NEW LIFE, was also shot in Korea last year. It deals with a young Korean girl sent to France for adoption.


[img_assist|nid=286|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=172|height=240]The one film above all others this spring that will leave your stomach growling is THE CHEF OF SOUTH POLAR. It’s director Okita Shuichi’s commercial feature film debut, after his first feature THE WONDERFUL WORLD was shown on a non-commercial basis in 2006.

Adapted from an essay by author and chef Nishimura Jun, this light-hearted comedy is about eight men stationed at Dome Fuji Station at the South Pole. It focuses on Nishimura’s point of view, as he creates extravagant dishes for his team. From foie gras, lobster to Matsuzaka beef (Wagyū, similar to Kobe beef), the dishes are excellent, particularly considering the very inhospitable climate outside (average temperature -54C). If you liked the classic Japanese film TAMPOPO, give this a film a try. Since this film had a relatively small release in Japan and Korea, it will likely be hard to get ahold of on DVD, so this will be the only chance to watch in Hawaii for now.



[img_assist|nid=287|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=162|height=240]If you like your food films with a little spice and a little love, don’t miss romantic comedy TODAY’S SPECIAL, by director David Kaplan. You may have seen Mr. Kaplan’s first feature film (YEAR OF THE FISH) when we showed it at HIFF 2007. TODAY’S SPECIAL is a romantic comedy set in a struggling Indian restaurant located in Queens, New York. It stars Aasif Mandvi (The Daily Show), Madhur Jaffrey and famous Bollywood actor Naseeruddin Shah. This film recently opened the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival.

Samir (Mandvi) is an aspiring sous chef who gets passed over for a promotion then resigns, going home to Jackson Heights, Queens to help his family with their restaurant “Tandoori Palace”. Samir’s mother is played by Madhur Jaffrey, who is famous in the world of Indian cuisine, similar to Julia Child’s relationship with French cuisine. Of course, the real star of this film is the mouthwatering Indian food. We can’t describe it enough with words, you’ll just have to see it on the big screen.



Thanks so much to HIFF sponsor, Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawaii, for sponsoring the Spring Showcase film, BEAUTIFUL ISLANDS. This film takes a look at three different islands around the world (Tuvalu in the South Pacific; Venice, Italy; and Shishmaref, Alaska), and how climate change is affecting the islands and their people. Japanese Director Tomoko Kana will be present for a special extended Q&A after the film screening. Joining her will be Dr. Maxine Burkett. Dr. Burkett is an Associate Professor of Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii and serves as the inaugural Director of the Center for Island Climate Adaptation and Policy (ICAP), at the Sea Grant College Program.


Sunday, April 18

1:30 PM

Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theaters & IMAX

Spring Showcase In Depth: Book Adaptations

Today we’re looking at four Spring Showcase films which are book adaptations: THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, MAO’S LAST DANCER, VILLON’S WIFE & THE SUMMIT: A CHRONICLE OF STONES. Read more after the break about these four films and their origins as novels.


[img_assist|nid=277|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=157|height=240]First, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO (Original Swedish title: Män som hatar kvinnorMen Who Hate Women) is the first book in a trilogy by the late Stieg Larsson. This series of crime/mystery novels were unpublished upon Larsson’s death of a heart attack in 2004, and are being translated into English by Reg Keeland. The third novel in the trilogy, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest, has a United States release date of May 2010.

All three films from the trilogy of books have been completed, and they opened in Europe during 2009. THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO has a March 19th release date in the United States, but will not be opening here in Hawaii until sometime later, so our Spring Showcase will be the first opportunity to see the film in this state.


[img_assist|nid=278|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=153|height=240]MAO’S LAST DANCER is based upon the book of the same name, which is an autobiography of Li Cunxin. Li was born into poverty in Qingdao China (also known as Tsingtao, located in Shandong Province), but was selected when he was 11 years old by a representative of Madame Mao’s Beijing Dance Academy. After seven years of harsh training, he graduated as one of China’s best ballet dancers. He was one of the first cultural exchange students under Mao’s regime, training at Ben Stevenson’s Houston Ballet. He started a relationship with an American dancer, which caused an international incident which ended with Li’s defection from China. Li’s autobiography was published in Australia in 2003, and this film was created in 2009.

Also of note is the lead actress in MAO’S LAST DANCER, Amanda Schull, who grew up in Hawaii and danced with the San Francisco Ballet. You might have also seen her in the TV series One Tree Hill or Bones.



[img_assist|nid=279|title=|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=165|height=240]Osamu Dazai’s 1947 novel Viyon no Tsuma (ヴィヨンの妻) is the inspiration for the film VILLON’S WIFE, directed by Kichitaro Negishi. Negishi is recently known for his 2005 film What The Snow Brings (雪に願うこと, Yuki ni Negau Koto), which won 5 awards at the 2005 Tokyo International Film Festival. Starring experienced actors Takako Matsu and Tadanobu Asano, this story is about the wife of a novelist who sticks by his side even through debt, alcoholism and affairs with other women.

The title Villon’s Wife refers to the 15th century French writer François Villon, considered one of the best poets of his time, but who also had a dark side, being known as a thief and a scoundrel.


[img_assist|nid=280|title=|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=175|height=240]Last, but not least THE SUMMIT: A CHRONICLE OF STONES (劔岳  点の記, Tsurugidake: Ten no Ki) is based on the novel by Jirô Nitta, which is the pen name of historical novelist Hiroto Fujiwara. Fujiwara’s novels mainly deal with mountains, as he was a meteorologist before retiring to write professionally.

The film is about a team of explorers who scale Mt. Tsurugidake during the closing years of the Meiji era, as it is the last empty space on Japan’s maps. Tadanobu Asano also stars in this film, as a surveyor hired by the Japanese military. He meets a crew led by experienced woodsman (Teruyuki Kagawa) and they face a range of conditions and terrain while mapping the mountain.

This film recently won several awards in the 33rd Japan Academy awards, including Best Director to Daisaku Kimura.

Full Program/Schedule for Spring Showcase

We’ve just announced the full program and schedule for the 13th Annual HIFF Spring Showcase. We’ve also included photo stills from the films as well as trailers or clips. As a reminder, ticket sales start Monday, April 5th for HIFF Ohana members, and Wednesday, April 7th for the general public.

View the Spring Showcase Online Program Guide


[img_assist|nid=272|title=THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=620|height=378]

HIFF’s Spring Showcase 2010 will include THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, the film adaptation of the international best-selling book by Stieg Larsson and the first in a series of crime novels called the Millennium Trilogy. More on Danish director Niels Arden Oplev (via NYTimes). 

Spring Showcase Opening Night Film: MAO’S LAST DANCER

[img_assist|nid=269|title=MAO’S LAST DANCER|desc=|link=url|url=|align=center|width=600|height=343]

MAO’S LAST DANCER tells the inspirational true story of a small boy’s extraordinary journey from poverty to international stardom. From a grueling apprenticeship as a classical dancer in communist China, to the glory of creative freedom in America. But, there is a painful price to be paid for his quest for self expression. MAO’S LAST DANCER captures the intoxicating effects of first love and celebrity, the pain of exile, and ultimately the triumph of individual endeavor over ideology.

Friday, April 16th – 6:30pm at Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theaters

Thank you, Oscar Night America Sponsors!


Stoli • Stella Artois • Waiwera


Apartm3nt • Barbara Brown’s Nails • Better Brands/William Grant • Bobbi Brown Cosmetics • Bonsai • Chocolate Creative • Christina Hom • Clark Takashima • The Contemporary Museum • cre808 Film Production Services • Dan’s Guitar • Elle Couture Jewellers • Fendi • Formaggio • Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay • Ginger 13 • Halekulani • Hands Toward Heaven • Harry Kasanow • Hawaiian Chair Covers • Hermes • Hildgund Jewelry • Hingkie Han • Honolulu Magazine • Indru Watumull • John Michael White • Daniel K • KA • Kaiwa • KBFD • Susan Kutzman • Roz Kwon • La Mer • Louis Vuitton • Manoa Valley Theatre • Martin & MacArthur • Media 5 Architecture • Mercedes Benz • Michael Chan • Moana Surfrider • Modern Luxury • Paul Brown Salon & Day Spa • Pearl Ultralounge • Phil Bossert • Azure at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel • Royal Lahaina Resort • Roz Kwan • RumFire • Salon Blanc •Shawn Fields • Sheraton Maui Resort • St. John • STAGE • Sweet Paradise Chocolatier • Tiffany & Co. • Toys & Joys • Volkswagen • W Salon • Whole Foods Market • Director Takita Yojiro


Aloha Salads, Christopher Lufrano • April Garcia • Better Brands, Christa Wittmier • Cutter Ala Moana Volkswagen, Ron Wright • First Hawaiian Bank • Hawaii Pacific Entertainment, Chimaine Pouteau • Hawaiian Chair Covers, Stacey Hayashi • KBFD, Jeff Chung • KITV, Michael Rosenberg & John Wray • Kyler Kwock, Photographer • Modern Luxury Hawaii, Jennifer Kurano • Platinum Limousine • Royal Hawaiian Hotel, Louise Abilla • Show and Tell, Mike Higgins • Starwood Hotels & Resorts Hawaii, Michael Troy • Stella Artois, Ty Sakaguchi • Steven Bern, Photographer • Sweet Paradise Chocolatier, Melanie Boudar • Waiwera, Philana Bouvier

Winners of Quick Picks Contest

Here are the winners of our Quick Picks Contest. They picked the most winners in 8 Academy Awards categories. These lucky people each won a bundle of 5 tickets to HIFF’s Spring Showcase, April 16-22 at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18 theaters. Congratulations! Stay tuned for more information, we’ll be announcing the full film program and schedule next week on Monday, March 15th.

  • Elizabeth Suzuki
  • Glenn Liu
  • Lynne Taogoshi
  • Matt Prellberg
  • Nancy Kishi

DEPARTURES Director Yojiro Takita talks at HIFF’s Oscar Night America party

DEPARTURES Director Yojiro Takita – 2010 HIFF Oscar Night America from HIFF on Vimeo.

The director of 2009 Oscar award-winning film DEPARTURES, Yojiro Takita attended HIFF’s Oscar Night America party on March 7, 2010. He spoke about how HIFF premiered his film in the USA in October 2008, and how the exposure led to his film being nominated for Best Foreign Language Film.

Content and Design Copyright © 2009-2015 Hawaii International Film Festival