#HIFF38 Spotlight: AWARDS BUZZ is an early look at films vying for Oscar gold

By HIFF | October 19, 2018

AWARDS BUZZ is our annual section that presents the buzziest fall releases that are vying for major award nominations in the coming months leading up to major awards ceremonies like the Golden Globes, Independent Spirit Awards, and the Oscars. All of the films in Awards Buzz are major festival premieres that have won awards and garnered rave reviews from world-class film festivals like Cannes, Venice and Toronto. From the latest by Oscar winner Barry Jenkins (MOONLIGHT) to Alfonso Cuaron’s follow-up from the Oscar winning GRAVITY, to films with tour-de-force performances by Nicole Kidman and Natalie Portman, HIFF38’s Awards Buzz is your advance glimpse at what films will win it all.

3 FACES (Iran, 2018)

Acclaimed rebel filmmaker Jafar Panahi evades his filmmaking ban and casts his eye to the fate of young women in rural Iran. After an alarming video is sent to an actress Behnaz Jafari by a distressed rural teenager, she and Panahi travel to her country town to check on her wellbeing, but as their road trip develops the quest for the girl undulates into a portrait of the everyday realities of Iranian country life.

BIRDS OF PASSAGE(Colombia, Denmark, Mexico, 2018)

BIRDS OF PASSAGE chronicles the origins of the Colombian drug trade, as seen through eyes of an indigenous Wayuu family that becomes involved in the booming business of selling marijuana to American youth in the 1970s. When greed, passion and honor collide, a fratricidal war breaks out and puts their lives, culture and ancestral traditions at stake. The follow-up to Ciro Guerra’s EMBRACE OF THE SERPENT, with co-directing credit by Cristina Gallego, this drug war epic is a sprawling tale of drugs, dowries and indigenous traditions.


CAPERNAUM, which won the Cannes Jury Prize, is about Zain, a 12-year-old boy in Beirut who, embittered by his grim circumstances, reaches a breaking point. After his parents effectively sell his beloved 11-year old sister as a child bride, Zain runs away. But soon he is captured and sent to prison, from where he launches a lawsuit against his parents, suing them for being born – a legal stunt encouraged by a TV show as a way of publicizing the issue of child poverty.


As a young cop, Erin Bell (Nicole Kidman in a transformative performance) went undercover to infiltrate a gang in the California desert -- with tragic results. When the leader of that gang re-emerges, Bell must work her way back through the remaining members while confronting her own demons. Nicole Kidman is unrecognizable as Bell today—grizzled, a heavy drinker, with sunken eyes. Her life is in ruins as the film slowly unravels the tragic events that destroyed her and the partner she left behind.


Fonny and Tish are in love, and this protects them from their respective families and the outside world until Fonny is falsely accused of rape. After his imprisonment, Tish finds out she is pregnant and she, her family, and her lawyer race against the clock to find evidence to free Fonny before the baby is born. Based on the James Baldwin novel, Barry Jenkins’ follow-up to the Oscar Best Picture winner MOONLIGHT continues his exploration of the African American experience.

ROMA (Mexico, 2018)

Oscar winner Alfonso Cuarón’s cogent and nuanced semi-autobiographical feature chronicles one year in the life of a middle-class family in 1970s Mexico City, crafting a uniquely spectacular yet intimate brand of cinema. Cleo works as a live-in maid. When the family patriarch departs for an unusually protracted business trip, his wife Sofia is left at home. Inhabiting a role somewhere between family member and employee, Cleo helps Sofia and the kids through a period of difficulty.

VOX LUX (USA, 2018)

Natalie Portman and Jude Law star in this stunning, beautifully lensed drama about fame, fortune, and its price from director Brady Corbet. When Celeste is only 13 years old her life, and that of her sister Eleanor, are forever changed by tragedy. But it is in the wake of this tragedy, that Celeste is surprisingly catapulted to fame. Years later she has become a popstar so famous she is a household name, yet echoes of the past still reverberate through her life.

View the entire AWARDS BUZZ section

  • Content and Design Copyright © 2009-2017 Hawaii International Film Festival
  • Built on Airship CMS