November 17, 2018 (Honolulu, HI) - The 38th edition of the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) presented by Halekulani announced their Jury winners at a private awards gala yesterday evening. The Best Made In Hawaii Feature Award winner is BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE directed by Aaron Lieber. The jurors also awarded a second place award to MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN, ONE CANOE, ONE PEOPLE, directed by Na’alehu Anthony.
The Made In Hawaii competition film awards category was launched in 2017 to spotlight the flourishing local independent film scene on the Hawaiian Islands. Fiction, non-fiction, and short films that are made by locally-based filmmakers or involve locally-based stories are eligible for the Best Made In Hawaii Feature and Best Made In Hawaii Short Film awards. In addition to the recognition, the Nichols Family Film Fund awards cash prizes of $2500 for the short film winner, and $5,000 to feature winner in the Made In Hawaii categories.
The Jurors shared their thoughts on the winning films: “This year’s Made in Hawaii nominees showcase a beautifully diverse range of stories, that all share a common theme: the transformative impact of community and family. BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE quickly showed us that what we thought we knew, was just the beginning of the story. Emotional and inspiring, this film did what all great docs do – it captured defining moments you can’t believe were captured on film with twists and turns that defied expectations. This amazing story of a deeply relatable underdog was also complemented with epic cinematography and a final shot that has to be seen to be believed.
“This year’s second place awardee, MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN, ONE CANOE, ONE PEOPLE. honors a movie that captures a movement decades, and arguably centuries, in the making. Hokule’a isn’t just a canoe. It’s a compass that reconnects us to our past and points the way to a better future. Over the past 40 years it has not only sparked a Hawaiian renaissance, it has now, incredibly, connected cultures and communities from every point around the globe, a symbolic lei that encircles the world.”
The jury in the feature category included: Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka-Tibble (Kura Productions, New Zealand Film Commission, producer of Maui’s Hook), Brian Watanabe (Screenwriter of Operation: Endgame, Founder 26 Keys Creative), and Aaron Kandell (Screenwriter, Moana, Adrift).
Last year, HIFF launched a new partnership with Hawaiian Airlines to launch in-flight programming to celebrate and showcase Hawaiian filmmakers and locally produced short films. The rotating programming will feature up to 15 short films annually, curated by HIFF, and available for free on over 120 Hawaiian airline routes to 28 destinations across the globe. This year’s Best Made In Hawaii Short Film Award winner is offered a spot in the program.
The Best Made In Hawaii Short Film Award winner is MAUKA TO MAKAI, directed by Jonah Okono and Alika Maikau.
The jury remarks: “All the films in the Made in Hawai’i Competition had their own strengths and visions, but one work stood out for its loyalty and commitment to its specifically Hawaiian location and community. Bringing to the screen a world little seen even in Hawaiian films, it wove a universal tale of economic struggle and longtime friendship into a proudly local, indigenous setting. Refusing to stoop to either overdone Hollywood twists or the ‘poverty porn’ gaze of an outsider, the film instead focused on the day-to-day financial struggles and decisions of those caught between barriers both economic and physical, as the film’s attentive framing of its spectacular natural landscape made clear.”
The jury also announced a Second Prize in the Made in Hawaii Shorts program, complete with a cash award. This prize went to Erin Lau’s THE MOON AND THE NIGHT.
The jury shared: “We’re thrilled to give this prize to THE MOON AND THE NIGHT, for the performances of its two leads and for its precise, condensed telling of one young woman’s difficult realization that to save her family, she must stand on her own.”
This year’s Made In Hawaii Short Film jury included Jason Sanders (Pacific Film Archive, Filmmaker Magazine), Joel Moffett (Professor, University of Hawaii at Manoa, ACM), and Andrea Krauss (Here Television, Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival, Casting on Hawaii Five-O & Magnum P.I.).
All films in Shorts programs #1 - 4, plus PACIFIC SHOWCASE SHORTS and MADE IN HAWAII shorts programs are eligible for the overall HIFF BEST SHORT FILM award. The jury for the BEST MADE IN HAWAII SHORT FILM will also preside over the HIFF BEST SHORT FILM award. This year’s HIFF Best Short Film Award is MAY 14th, directed by Boo Eunjoo.
From the jury: “The films in the Overall Shorts Competition ranged from such historical events as the Hiroshima attack, as recalled in OBON, to other global issues such as immigration, warfare, and climate change. It was a far more personal, intimate film that remained with us the most, however. A tale poised between comedy and heartbreak, of how families, friends, and colleagues can be mainly relied upon to disappointment you every day, and of being alone, but not particularly lonely. Boo Eunjoo’s MAY 14th demonstrated a sense of cinematic pacing, understated humor, and exceptional acting rare to see in a student’s thesis film. The Jury is proud to present May 14th with the Best Overall Shorts Prize, and is excited to see more from this emerging young filmmaker.”
The jury also announced a Special Jury Mention, for Andre Hoermann and Anna Samo’s OBON; recognizing its striking animated retelling of one survivor’s account of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb attack.
HIFF also announced the Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award, presented to an emerging filmmaker who has completed their first or second feature film. Both fiction and non-fiction feature films were nominated to the category by the festival programmers. The inaugural recipient is PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE, directed by Hao Wu.
The jury remarks, “The Ka’ū Ka Hōkū jury is proud to honor a remarkably confident and accomplished first feature that masterfully utilizes its formal complexity to serve a riveting narrative, brimming with contemporary social significance. This superbly crafted film is at once a meticulous character study, a chamber portrayal of modern existential angst, and a potent cautionary tale about our yearning for validation and increasingly desperate desire to leave our mark on virtual mirages of our own creation. The first annual Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Award for Emerging Talent goes to a fully realized film by a filmmaker who has, in fact, emerged as a distinct and important new voice: PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE, by Hao Wu.”
The Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award Jurors are: Alexandre O. Philippe (Director, 78/52, THE PEOPLE VS GEORGE LUCAS), Dan Truong (Amazon Festivals Stars Program), and Bao Nguyen (Director, LIVE FROM NEW YORK!, NUOC 2030).
The evening’s honorees were recognized for their commitment to excellence in their field. Honorees were announced during a press conference before the festival kicked off. The 2018 Halekulani Career Achievement Award was presented to actress Moon So-ri. Dubbed the “Meryl Streep” of South Korea, Moon is one of the most acclaimed Asian actresses of her generation. Moon recently directed the feature-length omnibus THE RUNNING ACTRESS.
The Halekulani Maverick Award was given to an international cinema artist who has a unique and eclectic career trajectory, contributing to international cinema and the filmed arts in an innovative way. This year, HIFF presented the award to American actress, writer, and rapper Awkwafina. Awkwafina, whose given name is Nora Lum, brings an impressive range of talent peppered with her signature flair, and has become a major breakout talent this year with her co-starring roles in Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians.
HIFF also presented the Halekulani Maverick Award to actor-turned-director Takumi Saito. As an actor, Saito is known for his breakout role in the wildly popular Japanese TV drama "Hirugao”. His feature film directorial debut, Blank 13, quietly evokes the enigma of discovering the private life of a loved one, whether dead or alive; and the elasticity of familial bonds.
The Hawaii International Film Festival's PIC Trailblazer Award was presented to a cinema artist of Pacific Islander heritage who broadens the scope of Pacific Islander stories onto the world stage, producing award winning work in independent and global cinema, becoming a trendsetter in their field and a cultural ambassador that shines a spotlight on Pacific islander culture in mainstream media.
The 2018 HIFF Pacific Islanders in Communications Trailblazer Award was given to Heperi “Hepi” Mita. Mita’s career began in 2007, working in online journalism for the pulitzer prize winning Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He returned to his home country of Aotearoa / New Zealand in 2011, following the death of his mother — indigenous filmmaking pioneer Merata Mita (UTU). His directorial debut, Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen, world premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival this past summer. HIFF will present the Hawaii premiere of this film at Spring Showcase 2019.
The NETPAC Award is presented annually at international film festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam, Pusan, Singapore, Taiwan, Yamagata, Amiens and Hawaii. HIFF is the only film festival in North America given permission to present the NETPAC award. This year’s NETPAC Award winner is STILL HUMAN by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan.
From the Jury: "The award for best narrative feature for an emerging filmmaker from the Asia Pacific region goes to STILL HUMAN by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan for its humane way of exploring racial and social class, the treatment of the disabled and the aged, and portraying the intersection of hopelessness and dreams.”
The Audience Awards for Favorite Narrative Feature, Documentary and Short Film, presented by Hawaii News Now, will be announced on Tuesday, November 20 on the HIFF website at www.hiff.org.
For more information on the awards and jurors, please visit: https://www.hiff.org/filmmakers/view/awards-and-juries
•Made In Hawaii Best Feature: BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE directed by Aaron Lieber (1st Place); MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN. ONE PEOPLE. ONE CANOE. Directed by Naalehu Anthony (2nd Place)
•Made In Hawaii Best Short: MAUKA TO MAKAI directed by Alika Maikau & Jonah Okano (1st Place); THE MOON AND THE NIGHT directed by Erin Lau (2nd Place)
•HIFF Best Overall Short Film: MAY 14th directed by Eunjoo Boo; OBON directed by Hoermann Andre & Anna Samo
•NETPAC Winner: STILL HUMAN directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan