Guest Filmmaker Program

HIFF Guest Filmmaker Program (GFP)

    Classroom Visits

    (open to primary & secondary students on Oahu and Kauai)

    Visiting filmmakers will help to enrich classes such as media production, journalism, language arts, foreign language and social studies. These visits will offer the logistical benefit of bringing speakers into classrooms rather than requiring field trips. Students will learn first-hand from successful professionals in the filmmaking/media industry. Teachers will be encouraged to plan activities that will involve students interacting with their guest speakers.


    Filmmaker Dates and Availability

    The filmmakers below are available for classroom visits on Oahu on these dates, except where noted: Nov 12, 13, 16-20, 2015.


    GFP Signup Form – Oahu


    2015 Guest Filmmakers


    Shonali Bose (available 11/17-11/20)

    Shonali-BoseShonali Bose (MARGARITA WITH A STRAW) has a Masters in Political Science from Columbia University and an MFA in Directing from the UCLA Film School. Her debut narrative feature film Amu – opened at the Berlin Film Festival followed by Toronto and many more top international film festivals. It won numerous awards including the FIPRESCI and the National Award and garnered huge critical acclaim. Bose’s second feature film Margarita, With won the Sundance Mahindra Global Filmmaker award (first Indian win) for the screenplay, the Best Asian Film Award at it’s world premier in the Toronto Film Festival in Sep 2014, and Audience Choice Awards in numerous international film festivals. It opened in 250 screens all across India to rave reviews and ran for 5 weeks. It is now opening theatrically in many more countries. Shonali lives between Los Angeles and India and is a single mother.


    Erica Cohn & Tony Vainuku

    Erica-CohnProducer/Director Erica Cohen (IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST) grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native Utahan, where she first began her career. Although her films differ in place and time, her fascination with religion and culture remain a reoccurring theme and her passion for social change the driving factor. In 2008, Erika traveled to Cambodia where she shot “Giant Steps,” a documentary about the reinstitution of art after the Khmer Rouge rule, which aired on PBS. In 2010, Erika associate produced the Frontline/ American Experience series, “God in America,” a six-part historical series on our nation’s relationship between religion and politics. Erika has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Director’s Guild of America award for her film, “When the Voices Fade,” a narrative profile of the Lebanese-Israeli war of 2006, and recent admission into the CPB Producer’s Academy. Erika has been a featured panelist/speaker at various film festivals and university conferences regarding independent film financing and mentors youth filmmakers across the globe. She attended Chapman University in CA, where she graduated with degrees in Film Production and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition, Erika is an avid documentary photographer, shooting primarily the lives of women in conflict zones, and serves as a US Ambassadorial Film Scholar to Israel/Palestine. She currently has two films in development through Idle Wild Films, Inc.

    Tony-VainukuDirector Tony Vainuku (IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST) comes from a culture of third world traditions and a family of athletes. He grew up playing sports, but football was the focal point for his community and for Tony throughout much of his youth. For many who share his Polynesian heritage, the sport had become a way of life. After high school, he spent some time in the corporate world before enrolling at Westminster College in Utah to study business marketing for the purpose of learning how to build businesses around his passions of creative directing, writing and filmmaking. After graduating with a B.S. in Business Marketing, Tony founded a multimedia company called Soulprofile Productions, which specialized in creative directing, video web ads, music production and other promos. In addition, Tony founded and launched the Soulpro brand in 2011: a lifestyle apparel brand built on the philosophy of Passion is Purpose®. In its three years of business, Soulpro has grown across the western United States and been actively involved in collaborating with and promoting hundreds of musicians, artists, athletes and entrepreneurs. Everyday, Tony lives his life by the simple philosophy of “get busy living, or get busy dying.”


    Gabrielle Demeestere (11/16 or 11/17 only)

    Gabrielle-DemeestereBorn and raised in Paris, Gabrielle is a New York-based filmmaker, with over five years of experience directing short films and commercials. She holds a BA in Literature from Yale and an MFA in filmmaking from NYU.  YOSEMITE is her first feature film.

    Jack Riccobono (11/16 only)

    Jack-RiccobonoJack Pettibone Riccobono has produced and directed a wide range of work across the five boroughs of his native New York City and around the world, from Moscow to Shanghai to Freetown. A graduate of Harvard’s VES Film Production Program and Werner Herzog’s Rogue Film School, his films have been screened internationally at venues including the Berlin International Film Festival, New Directors / New Films, the Museum of the American Indian, the American University in Rome, and the Museum of Modern Art. THE SEVENTH FIRE is his first feature documentary.

    Anne Misawa

    Anne-Misawa Anne Misawa grew up in Hawaii. Having graduated from University of Southern California’s Graduate Film and Television Program, Anne Misawa has worked internationally in various aspects of film production. Her primary work is as a Director and as a Cinematographer.

    Directorial credits include–
    WAKING MELE, (Sundance Film Festival, 2000), and EDEN’S CURVE, (Emerging Film Best Feature Award, NCGLFF, 2003). Anne teaches cinematic production at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawai’i where she produced & directed the feature length documentary, STATE OF ALOHA, which has garnered various awards, (Halekulani Golden Orchid Award Nominee for Best Documentary at Hawaii International Film Festival, 2009).

    Her work as cinematographer include many award-winning films–
    MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW, (directed by Shonali Bose, Sundance Institute’s Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award 2012, NETPAC award at Toronto International Film Festival, Busan International Film Festival, BFI London Film Festival, 2014,) JACK & DIANE, (directed by Bradley-Rust Gray, Tribeca Film Festival, Locarno International Film Festival, 2012), TREELESS MOUNTAIN, (directed by So Yong Kim, NETPAC award at Busan International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, Berlin International Film Festival, and New Directors/ New Films, 2008), TIME OUT, (directed by Xelinda Yancy, executive produced by John Singleton, HBO Award, 2004), SALT, (directed by Bradley-Rust Gray, Caligari Award for Innovative Filmmaking at Berlin International Film Festival, 2003), and LIV, (directed by Edoardo Ponti, executive produced by Robert Altman and Michaelangelo Antonioni, Venice International Film Festival, 1998).

    Her work in TREELESS MOUNTAIN was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography in 2010. Anne is currently an Associate Professor and Chair at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawaii at Manoa where she teaches cinematic production.

    Anne also has a background in writing: Master’s degree in Creative Writing, Poetry, from New York University and has studied at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Naropa Institute with its multidisciplinary approach to writing with renown writers and artists such as William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg, and Stan Brakhage.


    Bradley Tangonan

    Bradley-Tangonan Bradley started out in video as a member of Moanalua High School’s media program, where he shot news stories for closed circuit TV. He went on to study biology at Stanford University and, after a short stint in biotech research, became a corporate videographer in San Francisco. Bradley currently resides in New York where he directs and edits online ads for companies such Google, Condé Nast, Genentech, and Budweiser, in addition to writing and directing short films and music videos. Online portfolio:


    John Antonelli and Matt Yamashita

    John-AntonelliJohn Antonelli (ROOTS OF ULU) bio coming soon!
    Matt-YamashitaMatt Yamashita (HALAWA) is a successful freelance filmmaker from the Hawaiian island of Molokai. After receiving a BFA in Film Production from Chapman University, Matt returned to Molokai to become the island’s first professional filmmaker. He has been working in the Hawaii film industry since 2001 and has developed a full range of skills in all aspects of production including: concept development, writing, directing, producing, shooting, editing, and content delivery.

    Matt has unique expertise working within Hawaii-based communities, cultures, and environments and has dedicated the focus of his work to telling Hawaii’s stories through a local lens. Matt has held key roles in large productions that have received national and international broadcast. He is also well-known for his ability to deliver quality products while working with very limited resources and small production teams.

    Matt’s clients have included: Polynesian Voyaging Society, OiwiTV, University of Hawaii, Queen Liliu’okalani Children’s Center, Kaho`olawe Island Reserve Commission, Pacific Islander’s in Communication, First Nations Development Institute, Sacred Lands Film Project, Mill Valley Film Group, Protect Kaho`olawe `Ohana, Honua Consulting, Pacific American Foundation, Hui Ho`oniho, Tau Dance Theater, Edith Kanaka’ole Foundation, Hui Ho`opakele `Aina, Na Pu`uwai Native Hawaiian Health Systems, Molokai Community Health Center, Ala Wai Watershed Association, Maui County AHEC, Hawaii State Department of Health, Hawaii State Department of Land and Natural Resources, Hawaii State Department of Agriculture, and KITV, KHON, KGMB, and KHNL news stations.

    Rex Moribe

    Rex-MoribeRex Moribe is a filmmaker, entrepreneur, IT administrator/engineer, and professional bodyboarder. In 2005, he produced/wrote/directed his first feature film inspired by his favorite writer/director Kevin Smith. The film was not as successful as he would have liked, however, he learned and loved what he did. In 2010, Rex fell back in love with filming – making short travel videos. One of his first being Rex Vs Denmark. He has since continued making his Rex Vs videos with travel, weddings, surfing, bodyboarding, hikes, nature, and photography. He is the founder/owner of Da Secret Sauce, a Hawaiian Chili Pepper Water (Hawaiian Hot Sauce). His company has been on the local news, radio, magazines, and newspapers. He was a professional bodyboarder at 17 and had his own signature bodyboard. At 18, he went into semi-retirement to complete college and start working. Seven years later, he wanted to test himself by entering a bodyboarding contest. He won the event by beating 6x World Champion Guilherme Tamega. His current occupation is a full-time IT administrator/engineer. Rex shows passion and dedication in everything he does!

    Joel Moffett

    Joel-MoffettJoel Moffett is an internationally recognized filmmaker whose work has screened and won awards in festivals all over the world. He has received grants from the NEA, the NEH, the AFI, the Tides Foundation and the Lane Family Foundation among others. Joel holds an MFA in Film Directing from the American Film Institute and an MFA in Theatre Directing from Humboldt State University. Presently, he sits on the board of the Colin Higgins Foundation and works as an Associate Professor in the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

    Shinji Kondo

    Shinji-KondoShinji Kondo is a Producer, Director, and Editor. Born In 1969, Tokyo, Japan, in the suburb of Kodaira, Kondo is the second son of Akira and Tsuruko Kondo. His farther Akira has been a civil service worker for Tokyo’s Metropolitan Government and his mother was part-time worker. From primary to middle he attended the local public school and graduated from Kokubunji High School. He then attended the acclaimed Sophia University graduating in 1992 with his area of focus, studying and practicing Buddhism.

    After graduating he began working at Koa Fire & Marine Insurance Company and continued his Buddhist training/studies. In 2001, he married a Japanese woman, Tomomi, who was raised in Hawai’i so they moved there 15 years ago with their daughter and son. He had become involved with Shinnyo-en through his mother who had become a member early 1980s, she had turned to the practice because his father had suffered from a drinking habit and that influenced his whole family. In the process of filmmaking, he first had to learn how to edit, so it took him two years. A longtime follower of Shinnyo-en, he took his passion for the movement to such lengths as to create this film.