Latest Blog Posts

Quickie Picks: Arts Lovers


Arts and culture lovers, we’ve got films for you. Dancers and ballerinas: MAO’S LAST DANCER is the true story of Chinese ballet dancer Li Cuixin, and his rise to international fame. The film also stars Joan Chen, Kyle MacLachlan, and Amanda Schull (she’s from Hawaii!). Graphic designers and creatives: TYPEFACE is a documentary about the Hamilton Wood Type Museum in Two Rivers, WI. For anyone interested in the history of type and design, this film highlights a dying craft that has direct lineage to graphic designers and advertisers today. Photographers and cinematographers: FIBERGLASS AND MEGAPIXELS is a unique surf documentary that focuses on surf photographers and cinematographers. The film is an insightful look into surf documentation and the relationship between surf photographers and cinematographers to the surf industry and surfers. HIFF is proud to present the Hawaii Premiere of FIBERGLASS AND MEGAPIXELS with an extended Q&A with local filmmakers Derek and Craig Hoffman.

Special thanks to Electric Pencil for sponsoring TYPEFACE. 




Spring Showcase Ticket Sales Start Today

Just a reminder, ticket sales for the Spring Showcase start today for HIFF Ohana Members. You can purchase tickets online anytime, on the phone (808) 792-1577 or in person at the HIFF Box Office from 11am-6pm. The box office is directly across the street from the Regal Dole Cannery theaters. Ticket sales for the general public will start this Wednesday April 7th.



Just read an amazing article on CNN about Rep. Ahn Cao, the first Vietnamese-American elected to Congress to represent Louisiana.  The article tells of how he left Vietnam in 1975 at the age of eight.  His mother stayed behind to care for his other siblings and his father was imprisoned for fighting against the communist regime.  He overcame many barriers to eventually become a US Representative.  For more information click on the link below:

Spring Showcase In Depth: European Films

We have an exceptionally strong lineup of European films at the HIFF Spring Showcase this year, representing Sweden, Italy, France and the UK. A couple of them are adaptations of international bestsellers, to foodie culture to magical realistic farce that only the French can truly capture.

From Italy, we have I AM LOVE, a lushly photographed, meticulously designed drama starring the great Scottish actress Tilda Swinton, who speaks Italian and Russian throughout the entire film! A “period piece”, the film is a tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love. The film is directed by Luca Guadagnino, who directed the great crime drama THE PROTAGONISTS (also with Swinton), with a beautiful, yet edgy score by Pulitzer prize winning composer John Adams, known for his score for the opera NIXON IN CHINA.

VINCERE is the story of Mussolini’s secret lover, Ida Dalser, and their son Albino, brilliantly captured by writer-director Marco Bellocchio. An homage to Neo-Realism style of post-WWII Italian cinema, led by such masters as Roberto Rossellini and Vittorio De Sica. Italians truly make magnificent political dramas, especially dealing with the nuances of existing in the Fascist era of 1930s Italy. VINCERE was a finalist in the being the official Italian entry to the Academy Awards.

MID-AUGUST LUNCH, also from Italy, is a nice change of pace from the other Italian selections. Airy and loose like an afternoon siesta, the film Gianni is a middle-aged man living in Rome with his imposing and demanding elderly mother. With mounting debt, he is in a rut. Until one day, opportunity knocks on his door and it may be his one and only chance to change his life. Full of talk and food and more talk and more food, MID-AUGUST LUNCH has a light touch, yet explores deep seated issues regarding mothers and sons, the generation gap, and well, Italian lunches.

We already previously blogged about THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO, but this is definitely going to be one of the hot titles at this year’s Spring Showcase. Based on the international bestseller, DRAGON TATTOO is the first chapter in a conspiracy trilogy that is part DA VINCI CODE, part BOURNE IDENTITY. ‘Nuff said, go see it! Lastly, I’d like to highlight the Closing Night film, MICMACS, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet (AMELIE, DELICATESSAN, A VERY LONG ENGAGEMENT) in a quasi-fantastical crime comedy about a man and his friends come up with an intricate and original plan to destroy two big weapons manufacturers. Jeunet goes back to basics with his visceral bag of tricks, mad jumble of images and daring camera work. Extremely funny and full of sight gags, MICMACS is an entertaining night at the movies that I feel is a fitting closer to the HIFF Spring Showcase.



Here are a few TYPEFACE posters sent from Kartemquin Films. The screening is on Wednesday April 21 at 6:00 PM. Thanks to Electric Pencil (applause!) for sponsoring HIFF’s art and design-related films, including TYPEFACE. More information on the film here.


[img_assist|nid=295|title=SUMMER WARS and ONE PIECE FILM: STRONG WORLD|desc=|link=none|align=center|width=620|height=438]

There are two amazing anime films screening at the 2010 HIFF Spring Showcase.  SUMMER WARS and ONE PIECE FILM: STRONG WORLD have become hits in Japan winning much praise for their story and visual imagery.  Kid friendly, both films prove to be fun family viewing.

SUMMER WARS takes place in both the real world and a virtual world called Oz, this charming tale has won multiple animation awards, including Best Animation in the 33rd Japan Academy Awards. 

Natsuki, the most popular girl in school, hires math nerd Kenji to be her pretend boyfriend for a family celebration.  While staying at Jinnouchi compound, Kenji, accidentally sets loose a malicious computer virus ironically called “Love Machine” in the virtual world of Oz.  Love Machine creates havoc in the real world by giving infrastructures dependent on computer commands the wrong codes, and not only that – he is also absorbing the identities of people logged in on Oz.  Kenji, Natsuki and the rest of her clan must work together to stop this virtual being before all of Oz and the real world are left in ruins.

SUMMER WARS beautifully shows how powerful social networking has become, yet reminds us that being connected doesn’t always mean being on-line. There are so many layers to this film that you could watch it more than once and still find more to think about, admire and enjoy. 

For those unfamiliar with the ONE PIECE series, here is some background information to familiarize you with the film:  Monkey D. Luffy is our 17-year-old hero who is on a quest to find “One Piece” a legendary treasure whose owner becomes the King of the Pirates.  Luffy and his crew called the “Straw Hats” sail the seas in search of the elusive treasure and at times find themselves at odds with other pirates while also experiencing mystical adventures.  In STRONG WORLD, Luffy and his crew must rescue a fellow Straw Hat, Nami, from a mysterious enemy named Shiki the Golden Lion, who has whisked her away to a floating island called “Strong World.” 

ONE PIECE FILM: STRONG WORLD is the tenth film of the ONE PIECE franchise.  The series started off as a manga written and illustrated by Eiichiro Oda, and because of its popularity, has grown to also become one of the most celebrated television and film series in Japan. STRONG WORLD marks the tenth anniversary of the anime series, and HIFF is very honored to have the International Premiere!

HIFF on + Special Offer


HIFF is proud to present a special offer to subscribers to What is It’s like a film festival that’s always screening, streaming a growing collection of over 250 feature films, documentaries and short films from established and emerging Asia and Pacific Island filmmakers. Check out the website to see the feature on HIFF, too! Here’s the offer:

Sample the site for one month totally free.  

Choose to subscribe for a second month, and proceeds directly go to support the Hawaii International Film Festival.

Here’s how to do it:
1. Simply visit and enter this exclusive HIFF coupon code to redeem your free month trial:  HIFFohana2010
2. Stay the second month and support HIFF while continuing to watch great movies from Asia and the Pacific Islands. You can cancel at any time.

This offer expires April 15, 2010 so we hope you’ll take some time to visit and take advantage of this opportunity!

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

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