Awards & Juries

HIFF38 Honorees will be fêted at the HIFF Awards Gala on Friday, November 16 at the Halekulani. Click here for corporate table and/or individual seat purchases.


Halekulani Career Achievement Award
Presented by Halekulani

MOON SO-RI: Dubbed the “Meryl Streep” of South Korea, Moon So-ri is one of the most acclaimed Asian actresses of her generation, starring in seminal award winning films that are benchmarks in ‘hallyu’ or the Korean Wave of cinema in the 2000s. Working with auteur Lee Chang-dong in her powerful debut PEPPERMINT CANDY (1999) and OASIS (2002), she received great acclaim for her raw performance as a woman with cerebral palsy, winning the Marcello Mastroianni Award at the Venice Film Festival. For the next decade, Moon would work with arthouse auteurs like Hong Sang-soo (HA HA HA, IN ANOTHER COUNTRY) Im Sang-soo (THE GOOD LAWYER’S WIFE) and the sports sleeper hit FOREVER THE MOMENT. Wanting to spread her artistic wings, Moon would enroll as a film student at Chung-Ang University, which is an unusual move for a South Korean actress, especially someone as lauded and famous as her. Her graduate degree made her into a full-fledged filmmaker and a great one at that, with her graduate films becoming the feature-length omnibus THE RUNNING ACTRESS, which is part Hong Sang-soo and part Larry David, as the films star Moon as herself, a forty-something actress navigating through the Korean film industry. It’s a daring and inventive mid-career move for an artist who is truly at the top of her game, constantly reinventing herself.

The Halekulani Career Achievement Award is given to an international cinema artist at the top of their game. They can represent an entire country's film industry by producing work that is best representative of that country's very best in cinema, developing an illustrious and varied filmography that truly captures cultural snapshots through powerful storytelling and exemplary movie-making.

Halekulani Maverick Awards
Presented by Halekulani

AWKWAFINA: Awkwafina is an American actress, writer, rapper and musician from Queens, New York. 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 of summer 2018 with her co-starring roles in OCEAN’S 8 and CRAZY RICH ASIANS. Noted for the satire of her hilarious original music, Awkwafina became an internet sensation in 2012 with her viral video “My Vag.” Her first book, Awkwafina’s NYC, a travel guide to New York, was published by Penguin Random House in 2015. Lum is currently developing a scripted series with Comedy Central. She will become only the second Asian American woman to host Saturday Night Live this season. A true multi-hyphenate, Lum is dominating all media, breaking the glass ceiling not only for women, but also Asian Americans. She is a true maverick and changing the game on her own terms.

TAKUMI SAITOH: Takumi Saito was born on 1981, in Tokyo, Japan. As an actor, Saitoh appears in various much-discussed works such as THE PROJECTS, LOVE AFFAIRS IN THE AFTERNOON, and RAMEN TEH. Saitoh has gone behind the camera as a director. His first feature film BLANK 13, has been highly rated in numerous film festivals worldwide. It is currently screening at HIFF38.

The Hawaii International Film Festival's Halekulani Maverick Award is 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.

PIC Trailblazer Award
Presented by Pacific Islanders in Communications

HEPERI MITA: Born into a movie making family, a career in the film industry was inescapable for director Heperi “Hepi” Mita - not that he didn't try. His media 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), who would also become an educator and mentor on the inaugural staff of the UH Manoa Academy for Creative Media (ACM). Back in New Zealand, it was here that Hepi began his career as an archivist with Ngā Taonga sound and vision, the nation's film archive. The combination of these experiences culminated in his directorial debut with documentary MERATA: HOW MUM DECOLONISED THE SCREEN, which 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. As the mantle bearer of his mother’s legacy, Hepi continues to be a beacon for Maori and indigenous filmmakers and media, perpetuating this legacy for generations to come.

The Hawaii International Film Festival's PIC Trailblazer Award is given 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.


Kau Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award
HIFF was an annual stop for the Pulitzer winning film critic Roger Ebert, who hailed the festival as “a showcase for emerging filmmakers from the Asia and Pacific Rim.” The KAU KA HŌKŪ will be awarded to an emerging filmmaker (first or second feature film). Both fiction and non-fiction feature films will be nominated by the festival programmers and adjudicated by an international jury.

Made In Hawaii Film Awards
HIFF will present the inaugural MADE IN HAWAII FILM awards this year to focus on the dynamic and flourishing local independent film scene that strives onward here in 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 following awards — BEST MADE IN HAWAII FEATURE; and BEST MADE IN HAWAII SHORT FILM.

2018 Made in Hawaii Film Awards Jury:

HIFF Best Short Film Award
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.

Audience Choice Award
Presented by Hawaii News Now
Vote for your favorite feature film, documentary or short film playing at HIFF. Ballots will be distributed for the screening of every eligible film during the film festival. No pens, pencils or i.d. required. Tear along the edge of the ballot from 1 (terrible) to 5 (excellent) and drop it in the ballot boxes as you exit the theater. Winners will be announced post-festival.

Founded in 1990 by Cinemaya and UNESCO, the Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema (NETPAC) is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting Asian and Pacific film throughout the world. The prestigious NETPAC award is given at select international film festivals to promote Asian and Pacific cinema by spotlighting exceptional works and discovering new talent. 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.

Michael J. Werner (Head of Jury) — Producer, Film Strategist
Crystal Kwock — Actress
Roxanne Tsui — Programme Manager of Hong Kong Arts Centre

NETPAC Nominees:
ADULTHOOD (South Korea)
EMU RUNNER (Australia)
LAST CHILD (South Korea)
MAUI'S HOOK (New Zealand)
SIR (India)
SONG LANG (Vietnam)

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