The 30th annual Hawaii International Film Festival gets underway today. Celebrating 30 years of moving pictures, the festival always seems to bring in a great mix films. Every year I peruse the exhaustive program schedule, looking it over to see what films I might be interested in. In actuality though, I will never be able to see all of the movies that I really would like to see. Usually the first hurdle is cost.
While general admission tickets to the festival are slightly higher than normal at $12 per ticket, general admission attendees have to stand in the worst of three lines. For each film, there are three separate lines for different classification of festival goers. Membership packages start at $35 and go up to $1500. Obviously the more you pay, the better the line you stand in. So, as a general admission attendee, while you have the flexibility of purchasing tickets for films on an ala carte basis, you are by nature potentially near the back of any line as the membership lines go in before you do.
The second hurdle for me is usually schedule–both the schedule of the festival itself, as well as my own schedule. I don’t exactly know what it is, but come October my schedule just seems to fill up with stuff. Obviously if UH football games fall on festival dates–those are out. Then there are the “hollywood” screenings during the week (if any) that we usually cover (which there is only one of this year)–those are out. So, couple that with only select times that certain films are shown, and you have a perfect storm of scheduling conflicts.
And now, on to what I’m interested/hoping to see at this year’s HIFF.
My Four Most Anticipated Films to See at HIFF:
1) The Tempest
Exiled on a remote island, Prospera (the extraordinary Helen Mirren in a gender bending role), the duchess of Milan, conjures up a storm to lure a swath of characters from her past to her island kingdom, revealing in the process a cross-section of human frailties, illusions, kindness and nobility. Ms. Mirren is aided by a dream cast, including Russell Brand, Alfred Molina, Djimon Hounsou, David Strathairn, Chris Cooper, Alan Cumming, and more. Shot primarily on the island of Lanai and the Big Island, THE TEMPEST maximizes the beauty and mystique of Hawaii’s scenery to paint an otherworldly realm.
Why I Want to See It:
Yes, I’m a mainstream Hollywood guy. I love me some movies with known actors, high quality production work, and films already backed by studios.Having said that, another thing that this film has going for it is that it was shot here in Hawaii. Support local products right? In all seriousness though, I’m definitely intrigued with what director Julie Taymor’s has in store for us with such a star studded cast after liking her last project well enough (2007’s Across the Universe, based on the music of The Beatles). If you can’t catch it at HIFF don’t worry. The film is getting a wide release on December 17.
2) The People vs George Lucas
They gave him their love, their money and their online parodies. He gave them… the prequels. The passion the original Star Wars trilogy inspires in its fans is unparalleled; but when it comes to George Lucas himself, many have found their ardor has cooled into a complicated love-hate relationship. This hilarious, heartfelt documentary delves deep into Lucas’s cultural legacy, asking all the tough questions.
Why I Want to See It:
Come on now, what Star Wars fan wouldn’t want to see a documentary related in some way to the Star Wars saga and at the same time taking shots at Lucas himself? While making the statement that the prequels could have come out a little bit better is an understatement, I can definitely relate to some of the feelings fans have expressed against Lucas after the prequels came out. I think the movie description says it all when it asks the question . . . “who truly owns that galaxy far, far away—the man who created it, or the fans who worship it?”
3) Legend of the Fist
Presumed dead after single-handedly defeating all the Japanese fighters at the Hongkou Dojo to avenge his master, Chen Zhen (Donnie Yen, IP MAN) joins the Labour Corps during the First World War. Deciding to return home to defend his country, he arrives in Shanghai disguised as a wealthy businessman named Qi. He quickly befriends the notorious mafia boss Mr. Liu, owner of the nightclub Casablanca, and Kiki (Shu Qi), the club’s star hostess. With the rapid expansion of Japanese influence in China, the military releases a death list, sending Shanghai into complete panic.
Why I Want to See It:
I was sold on this movie thirty seconds into the trailer. Bear with me now, I have very little to go on when it comes to foreign films. Most of my knowledge about these pictures is from the descriptions and info from the HIFF website. However, besides the great looking action sequences, the movie still has a lot going for it. The lead Donnie Yen has been in a number of great Hong Kong films and director Andrew Lau has a good number of credit to his name–most notably ‘Infernal Affairs,’ which was remade here in the US by Martin Scorsese under the title ‘The Departed.’ It has also been getting some buzz on the festival circuit and was a fantastic movie to see at Fantastic Fest.
4) To Live & Ride in LA
For fixed-gear cyclists, Los Angeles is a city that has it all. From the neon glow of Hollywood to the sun-drenched boardwalk of Venice Beach, fixed-gear has evolved into a vibrant street culture that is uniquely L.A. From director David Rowe comes a new documentary feature that explores a side of L.A. few outsiders have seen. From races through rush-hour traffic to midnight loft parties, TO LIVE & RIDE IN L.A. is a fast paced-trip through the busy streets and back-alleys of one of the world’s largest cities.
Why I Want to See It:
Ah, these big mainland cities with their quirky pockets of culture. From the trailer this film literally looks like a wild ride. What struck me was how intense, but also passionate, these bikers are about riding. Now let’s get one thing clear here, this is not BMX racing or trick riding like Matt Hoffman. These guys are urban bike riding cowboys who are not afraid of LA traffic. Definitely worth checking out I think.
I wanted to include so much more in this HIFF preview when I first started writing it on Sunday. Sadly, time got away from me (yet again) and I could only bang out previews on four films. Stay tuned for another post taking a look at more films that I’m interested in checking out at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival which runs October 14-24. In the meantime, hit the links throughout this post for more info on these movies as well as links to the HIFF website to find out about purchasing tickets. And here’s two more links from our local papers about the festival. Enjoy and see you at the movies!
Movies, movies, movies – by Gary C.W. Chun of the Honolulu Star-Advertiser gives background on this year’s festival.
HIFF Hooray – by Chad Pata of the MidWeek talks with festival director Chuck Boller about this year’s fest and it’s history.