Posts Tagged ‘HIFF


HIFF 2011: Must See Preview Pt 1

With HIFF 31 now only a few short days away, the Red Band Project takes a look at our most anticipated films playing at this year’s fest. Culling through the 200 plus film descriptions, trailers, and blogosphere buzz on films playing in the festival does take some time so I’m breaking up this post into two parts. Part I (today’s edition) covers the 4th through 10th most anticipated films; while part II, which I’ll be posting tomorrow (hopefully), will cover the top three most anticipated films and a few other things you won’t want to miss at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival.

As always I’m going to preface this by saying that I’ve always been kind of a “mainstream” kinda guy so obviously I’m prone to being drawn to films with known actors in it or films that have high production value. Another caveat–some of the bigger “event” or “mainstream” films have been left off. I mean, when even Guy Hagi wants tickets to The Descendants, there’s no need to cover something that huge.

Finally, some of the films talked about or covered in this post may have already been discussed in previous blog posts (here and here). Please bear with me as I try to add more or slightly different insight as to why these movies are appearing on yet another HIFF blog post. And with that, here we go . . .

10) With Great Power – The Stan Lee Story
// HIFF Page
// Official Website
// Facebook
// Twitter


A feature length documentary on the life and creations of Stan Lee. Stan Lee is the co-creator of SPIDER-MAN, HULK, X-MEN, FANTASTIC FOUR, IRON MAN and over 200 other characters that can be found in comic books, movie screens, and in retail stores around the world. (via

Why I Want to See It:
Stan Lee is the man that gave us Spider-Man, The Hulk, Iron Man, the X-Men, and a bunch of other really cool superheroes. He’s also the reason why we practically have a superhero genre for film today (which I personally think is a good thing). Now there’s no trailer and the movie descriptions about this film can only tell you so much, but having a documentary about the man is something that I can get behind and I’m sure would find interesting. I’m not a comic book geek so I only know the very basics about him. If this film can shed any light on what he’s like and give some insight into how he created these characters . . . well that’s good time spent in my opinion.

9) The Short List
// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Website
// Facebook

Join crack seed owner, Mr. K, as he shares his treats from his special short list of films. These tempting morsels include HOTEL ST., a crime procedural drama, THE PROTECTOR, a romantic thriller, THE ROUNDUP, a western, BAIT, a drama with a twist, and ONE EVENING IN THE BLUE LIGHT BAR & GRILL, a romantic comedy. Five local writers with five local directors created this tasty blend of short stories. All the films were hundred percent locally produced in Hawaii and preservative free. (via HIFF)

Why I Want to See It:
I’m interested in seeing The Short List mainly because of the people behind it–TalkStory Productions. Last year TalkStory produced the film The Tempest, which played at last year’s HIFF and received a limited release in the US. The team behind TalkStory was on hand during the festival to do a Q&A and I was even fortunate enough to meet them and during both encounters I could feel how much they love cinema and the work that they do. This year they bring an anthology of locally shot short films to HIFF. While each one is different and unique, all have Hawaii written all over them. Also, this screening is already sold out and is at ‘rush line’ status. Guess it must be good if it’s already sold out.

8 ) The Wonder Year
// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Site


A year in the life of CEO, NAACP Ambassador, Duke University Professor, husband, father, son and Grammy Award winning producer 9th Wonder. (via

Why I Want to See It:
I’m going to assume that the music that plays in the first part of the trailer for this film was done by 9th Wonder himself. If that’s not the case, then I am going to be sorely disappointed when I see this film. That song was what basically sold me on the film. It’s mesmerizing, enchanting, and has a beat! And that’s not even the best part, that comes later when all these people (known artists included) wax poetically about how good the guy is. Needless to say if you’re a music person you won’t want to miss this screening or the special composers panel the next day (Saturday, October 15) that 9th Wonder will be at as well.

7) Wind Blast

// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Site

Underground boxer turned hitman Zhang Ning and his pregnant girlfriend Sun Jing flee through the Gobi Desert with Detective Leopard and his cohorts in hot pursuit. Also on Ning’s trail are two killers sent by an irate client to silence him and retrieve a vital piece of evidence. Although Ning is soon captured by the cops, the tables are turned as the assassins attack their camp, setting in motion a series of intensifying battles and explosive duels. (via HIFF)

Why I Want to See It:
Not going to lie, from the movie description and the trailer this film looks like a crazy good Hong Kong style action western. You heard that right, Western. It’s got everything a male ages 18-49 could ask for: explosions, chase scenes (on horseback and vehicular), shoot outs, oh, and don’t forget those slo-mo shots of bullets and arrows sailing through the air. What’s not to love about a movie like that?

6) Let the Bullets Fly
// Trailer
// HIFF Page


Set in China during the warring 1920s, notorious bandit chief Zhang descends upon a remote provincial town posing as its new mayor, an identity that he had hijacked from Old Tang, himself a small-time impostor. Hell-bent on making a fast buck, Zhang soon meets his match in the tyrannical local gentry Huang as a deadly battle of wit and brutality ensues. (via

Why I Want to See It:
There’s definitely a lot to like in this film. The trailer, the film synopsis, having Chow Yun Fat starring in it, and the fact that it’s played at a number of different film festivals this year definitely all provide the ingredients for something great. The director of the film is also this year’s HIFF “Filmmaker in Focus” and they probably wouldn’t bestow that title on him unless his work is up to snuff. However, buzz from the festival circuit has been mixed at best with several film blogs warning about confusing storylines and a runtime that seems a bit long for what’s in the film. However, I did hear from someone locally that the film is “pretty f***en mean.” Whatever the case may be, I’m definitely interested to see what it’s about and am not discouraged by the lukewarm reception from the mainland.

5) The Artist
// Trailer
// HIFF Page
// Official Site 


Hollywood, 1927: As silent movie star George Valentin wonders if the arrival of talking pictures will cause him to fade into oblivion, he sparks with Peppy Miller, a young dancer set for a big break. (via

Why I Want to See It:
This film received A TON of praise coming out of this year’s Cannes Film Festival (THE highest profile and possibly most prestigious international film festival) and the lead actor, Jean Dujardin, took the Best Actor award from the festival. The film was picked up by The Weinstein Company for distribution in the US; so we will see it here in Hawaii before the end of the year. Though a lot of the buzz from Cannes has dropped off, the film still interests me since it’s a silent film. Yes, you read that correctly, there’s no speaking at all during the film! With so many peopling liking a silent film I feel I need to check this out.

4) The Front Line
// Trailer
// HIFF Page


The Front Line offers up a classically hellish picture of front-line warfare between North and South Korea that turns several of the cliches of war movies inside-out. Most of the film is set on a hill which has been captured and recaptured by both sides, with considerable loss of life each time. A young officer is sent to the area to investigate a possible spy and what looks like a sinister case of “friendly fire.” The surprises awaiting him include a reunion with an old friend he believed dead, several run-ins with a crack North Korean sniper, rife indiscipline and insubordination and a surprising kind of fraternization between the two sides. (via HIFF)

Why I Want to See It:
From the trailer, this film looks and gives off the same vibe as Saving Private Ryan. Just the scope and epicness of some of the scenes from the trailer give you that same feeling that you get from any great war film. It’s no wonder that The Front Line is Korea’s submission for next year’s Academy Award and will open HIFF 31 with a bang.


So that’s going to do it for Part 1 of The Red Band Project’s HIFF Must See Preview. Check back tomorrow as I finish off the countdown, take a look at the films that just missed the list, films of note, and a bunch of events that you’ll definitely want to check out at this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival.


First Look: HIFF 2011

HIFF watch has officially begun and of course a dirty RED DOG is The Red Band Project's most anticipated film at this year's fest.

The fall. It’s that time of year between the summer blockbusters and the start of Oscar season. It’s also when Hollywood decides to dump more films on moviegoers that they aren’t all that interested in supporting, albeit a few glimmers of hope (Drive, Moneyball, Contagion). Thankfully though we have HIFF next month to help get us through these dark days of fall. Though it’s just a little over a week long, we can start looking forward to what’s in store for us for HIFF 31 by analyzing the films already announced, right now!

Note: For trailers to the 13 films announced for HIFF 31, head over to their website where they have posts with trailers/descriptions for each of the films.

Red Dog

Out of the 13 films announced so far, Red Dog is definitely the front runner for the film I want to see the most at HIFF 31 (photo above). Call me sentimental, call me an animal lover, call me a dog lover, but the trailer for this film had me smiling and grinning the entire time. Who wouldn’t like to see a story about a dog that is an entire town’s pet. Red Dog definitely seems like he’s almost a human being from the way he’s depicted in the film. Smart, funny, emotional, not since Wall•E have we seen someone who doesn’t speak convey so much with gestures. Take a look at Koko’s (aka Red Dog) screen test below and you’ll begin to see what I mean:


The Other 12 Films (so far)

The only other thing that intrigued me was Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey which describes the gentleman behind the famous Sesame Street character. It got lots of praise coming out of Sundance earlier this year (via /Film & Cinema Blend) and should definitely be a crowd-pleaser here as well. Whether I see this or not will depend on the schedule.

After that, the rest of the films didn’t really stand out to me. Don’t get me wrong, there may be some great films in here that I’m overlooking (and I’m certainly not saying any of them are bad), it’s just that none of them are really speaking to me at the moment. Ninja Kids and My Wedding and Other Secrets look to be fun and cute. Jiro Dreams of Sushi looks interesting and will not only attract foodies to this film, but make all of us wish that we had sushi right there with us next to our popcorn I’m sure. A few documentaries and dramas round out the rest of the currently announced titles:

  • Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (United States)
  • Jiro Dreams of Sushi (Japan/United States)
  • The Journals of Musan (Korea)
  • Jump Ashin! (Taiwan)
  • Legend of the Millennium Dragon (Japan)
  • My Last Day Without You (United States)
  • My Wedding and Other Secrets (New Zealand)
  • Ninja Kids! (Japan)
  • Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul (Afghanistan)
  • Top Floor Left Wing (France)
  • Unfinished Spaces (United States)
  • We Need to Talk About Kevin (UK/United States)


The Descendants

What's George Clooney got to hide from? Why only the masses and masses of people that are going to try and see The Descendants on the closing night of HIFF. That's all.

Though not officially announced or noted on the HIFF website, it is already being reported that The Descendants by Alexander Payne (Sideways, Election) starring George Clooney, will be the closing night film for this year’s HIFF. Generally a lot of people go to the opening night, centerpiece, gala, and closing night films because they’re bigger films, receive more publicity, and are showcase features for the festival. However, The Descendants has the distinct privilege of not only being a Hollywood picture, but as previously mentioned stars George Clooney, AND was shot here in Hawaii–a trifecta.

The film was just screened at the Telluride Film Festival this weekend and is already garnering positive buzz from media outlets (via The Hollywood Reporter) and movie bloggers . . .
via /Film:

Loved Alexander Payne’s The Descendants. Worn out from emotion. Great performances from George Clooney. (link)

And the rest of the cast. It will have you crying while you’re laughing and laughing while you’re crying. (link)

Now, normally I’m a mainstream Hollywood movie kind of guy and I’d JUMP at the chance to see this film. However, so is everybody else that’s coming to the festival. Right now I’m going to guarantee that the closing night of the festival is going to be a madhouse with everyone and their mother trying to get into this screening. And you know what . . . I’ll be right there with them!

How you might ask? By not buying a ticket. Call me crazy, but I want to work the festival that night! With my event background, there’s just something about working big crowds that is pretty fun (and yes, pretty crazy sometimes too). Yeah, I do want to see The Descendants, but I really have no desire to even try to stand in line and fight a crowd to see it as a civilian. I can wait till Thanksgiving weekend when the picture has its theatrical release. I don’t mind waiting.

And now we wait . . .

While HIFF 31 is still a good month and a half away, I can’t help but get excited for it. What I’m interested to know is, if you’ve watched any of these trailers or know any more about these films, definitely let me know in the comments below if I’m missing something for those other films. Also, if you were at the special HIFF membership appreciation screening of Senna this week, I’d also like to hear your thoughts on these films as well. Let us know!


[Wrap Up]: HIFF Spring Showcase 2011

I know what you’re probably thinking . . . isn’t the Spring Showcase over? Ok yes, HIFF’s 2011 Spring Showcase did finish last week (hence the “HIFF Hatched” graphic). However, due to a very busy schedule there was no HIFF Spring Showcase preview nor were there posts during the showcase. Don’t worry though, I’m still going to talk about my experience this past week at the showcase. Though it probably won’t be as in depth or detailed as the fall festival posts, it’s still stuff that happened to me this past week. So without further ado, let’s take a look back at the week that was . . .

What I Wanted to See

So one of the things I learned this past week was that the HIFF Spring Showcase is short. Now, I know that the festival in October is “the festival” and when you really think about it, it makes perfect sense that the Spring Showcase is shorter and not as big of an affair. However, you don’t really understand how short it is until you really look at the schedule or try to volunteer to work the showcase (more on this later). Since the Spring Showcase is shorter, the list of films I wanted to see is decidedly shorter as well:

POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
// HIFF Page
// Official Website
// Facebook








HIFF Description

Boundary-pushing Oscar®-nominated filmmaker Morgan Spurlock explores the world of product placement, marketing and advertising in POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a film that was fully financed through product placement from various brands, all of which are integrated transparently into the film. With humor and insight, POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold unmasks the marketing process to bring audiences behind closed doors directly into the pitch meetings and marketing presentations which ultimately inform our everyday entertainment decisions.

Why I Wanted to See It:

Ever since working for UH Sports Marketing back in 2004, I now have a greater understanding on the practical applications of marketing–more specifically, marketing that is actually being implemented out in the field. I first heard about this film in early January when it got selected to be in the Sundance Film Festival and eventually was picked up for distribution by Sony Pictures Classics (so yes, I’ll be able to see it later this month). A marketing documentary about marketing in movies . . . yes, there’s a certain META quality to it, but the film plays to two things I’m into: movies & marketing.

These Amazing Shadows
// HIFF Page
// Official Website
// Facebook
// Twitter







HIFF Description

As the government-appointed protector of our cinematic legacy, the National Film Registry selects culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant works for preservation in the Library of Congress. From award-winning features to music videos, experimental films to home movies, each Registry selection reflects a truth of its time or a standout artistic vision. Guided by a true cinephile’s love of the medium and a treasure trove of archival footage, the film molds a cultural history from pieces of film, offering a microcosm of the work of the National Film Registry and making a powerful case for film preservation.

Why I Wanted to See It:

Again, another film that I heard about because it played at Sundance. Being into movies as much as I am, anytime there’s more to find out about cinema I’m pretty much game for it. While initially the topic of film preservation may not sound that exciting or enticing, I’m sure there have to be some “amazing” stories behind the preservation of film. I mean, we’ve all heard a story here or there about how when they dug out the old reels to show it again it needed to be heavily restored due to degradation. Why not find out a little bit more about preserving pop culture from people that are passionate about it?

The Whistleblower
// Voltage Pictures










HIFF Description:

Rachel Weisz turns in a stellar performance as Nebraska police officer-turned-peacekeeper Kathryn Bolkovac in this tough-minded thriller set in Bosnia at the turn of this century. Based on a true story, Larysa Kondracki’s gritty debut follows Bolkovac as she exits her tangled personal life back home in favor of a job with the U.N. peacekeeping force in the still-tense former Yugoslavia. Once there and working for the U.N.’s Gender Office (headed by Vanessa Redgrave in a superb cameo), which investigates sexual assaults, Bolkovac uncovers evidence of human trafficking and sexual slavery that implicates fellow peacekeepers and officials, evidence that puts her life in danger.

Why I Wanted to See It:

I’m not going to lie, the main thing that got me interested in this movie was the fact that there are known actors in it (Rachel Weisz, Monica Bellucci, and David Strathairn). After that though, I did read the synopsis a bit and it did intrigue me. While I read it had lukewarm reviews during last year’s Toronto International Film Festival, everyone I heard from at this year’s showcase that saw it seemed to have enjoyed it. It did eventually find an American distributor, so we should be seeing it in theaters later this summer.


Busy Schedule – Two, then One day

So what do I do after I come back from vacation? Take it easy perhaps? No, of course not! I just right back into a busy schedule with working a UH baseball game, screening Soul Surfer and follow that up by working the opening night of the Spring Showcase. Knowing that my evenings were going to be very precious for the next two weeks when I got back from my vacation, I only budgeted two nights for working the showcase, opening Friday and the following Monday. Long story short, I had one free night for myself during the entire showcase and I wasn’t about to give that up.

Originally I had planned to work Monday night at HIFF. Well that didn’t exactly happen. I wake up Monday morning and find an email from a mainland Warner Bros representative asking if I could screen Arthur for them . . . THAT NIGHT. Since Warner Bros isn’t a studio I regularly run screenings for, I jumped at the opportunity. So sadly, Friday night turned out to be the only night I was able to work HIFF. What’s funny though is that I ended up being at Dole more for work than I did volunteering.


The Film I Did See – 13 Assassins (most of anyway)

So on that opening Friday, I did manage to see a good portion of 13 Assassins since we had a lot of down time between films for theater ops. Walking in a good halfway through the film I pretty much got the gist of the plot. From what I gathered, it was your classic ‘struggle against a tyrant’ scenario where a smaller force (the 13 assassins) is opposing the person in charge. It was going fairly well when towards the end of the film (the point at which the 13 Assassins execute their grand plan) the movie kicked it into awesomeness territory with a great set of fight sequences. Sadly though, I didn’t get to see the climatic finish (there just had to be one right?) as we had to check back in for duty before the film ended.

However, one moment that did stand out to me in the film was when someone came and stood right in front of me blocking my view. Now since I was volunteering, unless there’s open seats in the theater (which there weren’t) you generally have to stand on the side against the wall in the area where the hall opens up to the rest of the theater. There were a bunch of us volunteers there standing and watching the film for a good while. Then out of nowhere someone else comes in and stands against wall opposite us–blocking my view of the screen’s subtitles. At first I don’t mind too much cause I thought maybe this person was trying to survey the theater to find an open seat. Nope. He just stood right there to watch the show.

Yeah, I don't usually condone the use of cell phones during the film, but I had to make an exception this one time.

Because of where I was, he was in a perfect position to obstruct my sight line . . . thanks dude. Since there were a bunch of us volunteers against the wall I didn’t have too much room to maneuver so I had to get closer to the dude to my left so that I could see around the obstruction.

Soul Surfer Sunday

Producer David Brookwell, producer Ricardo Galindez, actress Arlene Newman-Van Asperen, actress Sonya Balmores, producer Roy Tijoe, and Noah Hamilton at the HIFF Spring Showcase.

Sunday I was at the showcase in an official capacity of sorts. I was called upon to do screening reports for both showings of Soul Surfer. The first screening at 11am was a private ‘cast & crew’ screening to give those who worked on the film an opportunity to see it for the first time. The second screening was the public showing for the showcase. Having already seen the film once three days earlier, it definitely made watching the crowd easier as I knew when to expect audience reactions. However, seeing multiple screenings of a film within a short amount of time isn’t the most fun experience in the world, in fact in some ways I do get tired of seeing the same film multiple times.

With under six hours between screenings I pretty much left Dole to grab lunch, took a nap, and came back to do it all over again. For the evening screening, there were definitely a lot more people around and I knew this showing was going to be sold out. What was good about the evening screening though, was that there was a large entourage of producers and actors on hand to support the film. After the film, there was a short Q&A with everyone to discuss how they put the film together. The real treat of the night though, probably was that Bethany’s brother Noah was on hand to personally thank everyone who came out that night. Here’s how packed the house was during the Q&A after the film:


Other Thoughts . . .

  • Getting to Know People :: So back in October I worked HIFF as a volunteer for the first time. Being that it was my first time I didn’t quite know what to expect both in the sense of job duties as well as of the people I would be working with. Showing up to volunteer on Friday night, I recognized the familiar faces that I had met in the fall. In fact, I even recognized familiar face from many falls ago . . . someone that I went to school on the mainland with. Yeah, come to find out we had both worked in the fall and had not even run across each other (which is easier than you think). It was good talking to her and finding out what happened with our lives since the mainland.
    Of course a few of the usual suspects were volunteering again. I have to say though, this time around I got to talk with some of them a bit more and after doing so, I definitely began seeing them in a different light. Nothing about my overall opinions really changed about them, however I did get a better understanding of who they were and where they were coming from. You may never get a second chance to make a first impression, but you can definitely continue to make positive impressions that help others to understand.
  • Pulling Back the Curtain :: Now, when we started doing this blog a little over two years ago I wasn’t really expecting all that much to come out of it (and in many ways nothing has). You know, I post it to my Facebook and tweet it out so that maybe a couple people outside of family and friends would read it. Nothing major. We’re doing it cause it’s fun and we’re into movies. Having said that, anytime someone I don’t really know posts a comment, retweets something I put out, or even mentions that they read the blog . . . I’m really appreciative of that.
    Even more rewarding though, is meeting those people in person. (again very appreciative and thankful)

So that was my 2011 HIFF Spring Showcase, or maybe lack thereof. I definitely can’t wait for the fall and hopefully I can clear my schedule out a little bit better to make sure I attend more dates than this spring. 🙂


Film Festivals to Watch Out For

There are a TON of film festivals out there. And while I have only been to our hometown one here at HIFF, there are a few that I like to keep track of to kind of find out what projects there are out there that people are talking about, what’s generating buzz, and could possibly be coming to a theater near me sometime later in the year.

The importance of film festivals provides filmmakers the opportunity to showcase a film they’ve made or funded on their own–in the hopes that it will secure some form of distribution (films made by big studios often have distribution deals set up before the film goes into production). This is why having your film selected at a big name festival can really make your career as a filmmaker. With the Sundance Film Festival  going full steam right now till January 30, here’s a short list of festivals that I try to keep tabs on.

Sundance Film Festival

mid-late January :: Park City, Utah-United States :: Focus: American Independent Cinema
Probably the most well known film festival in the United States, the Sundance Film Festival has been a launchpad for a number of directors that include: Christopher Nolan, Kevin Smith, Quentin Tarantino, and Bryan Singer just to name a few. Though so many films go through Sundance unnoticed, unseen, and unheard of; a good number seem to break through to wide distribution to the rest of us later in the year. The best descirption of why Sundance is so important can probably be summed up best by /Film’s Germain Lussier:

“Plain and simple, the best films that you will see in theaters for the next 12 months are being shown at Sundance now. And while you probably haven’t heard of them in January, you’ll definitely have heard of them by December. Don’t you want in on the ground floor?”

Check out his full post on /Film here.

Festival de Cannes

mid May :: Cannes, France :: Focus: European Cinema
In terms of glamour, ceremony, and prestige, the Cannes Film Festival has all other film festivals beat. Filmmakers, stars, distributors, producers, and studios from all over the world flock to the small resort town in the south of France each May hoping to discover new talent and vision from filmmakers across the globe. The big award here is the Palme d’Or (Golden Palm) which is awarded to the top film of the festival.

Toronto International Film Festival

mid September :: Toronto, Ontario-Canada :: Focus: Awards Season Films
The last big festival of the year, the Toronto International Film Festival is the first stop on any film’s run to potential awards season gold. Once dubbed “the festival of festivals” (because it got other film festival leftovers) TIFF has now become known as a launchpad for films with (or hoping for) awards season potential. While many festivals want to host exclusive premieres of big films, Toronto’s openness to attendees, ease of getting to the city, and volume of features shown provide studios with opportunities to show their films to a greater media audience. Also different from other festivals is the fact that there is no jury that selects the festival’s top prize: The People’s Choice Award. This award is selected by the entire festival going populace.

Fantastic Fest

late September :: Austin, Texas-United States :: Focus: Horror, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Cinema
If you are a fan of the horror, fantasy, or sci-fi genres in cinema, then you have to one day make sure that you get yourself to Fantastic Fest. It is the biggest genre festival in the United States and features films that come from all over the world that fit these categories. Partly organized by Ain’t It Cool News movie website master Harry Knowles and run at the prestigious Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Fantastic Fest brings in a lot of cult programming, filmmakers, and events for fans and attendees.

Telluride Film Festival

Labor Day Weekend :: Telluride, Colorado-United States
What makes the Telluride Film Festival very unique and at the same time very big on the film festival circuit is that they have an informal tradition of requiring films to not having been shown in North America to be eligible for entry AND they do not announce their lineup until the first day of the festival. It is these two aspects that have made Telluride a ‘must stop’ for film and cinema media since a number big films and award season contenders are shown. Somewhat of an ‘anti-Sundance,’ since attendees do not know what they will be seeing beforehand, media hype and promotion is very subdued and makes walking the streets of Telluride not as difficult of a challenge as it is in Park City.

Hawaii International Film Festival

mid October :: Honolulu, Hawaii-USA :: Focus: Asian Cinema
You didn’t think we were going to complete this list without listing the hometown Hawaii International Film Festival did you? It may not be as prestigious as the other film festivals I’ve listed here but, they do bring in a lot of quality films that we might not otherwise see here and it’s the only festival I’ve been to (which definitely gives it a leg up on the other festivals in my opinion). Besides, where else can you go to a festival in shorts, slippers, and t-shirt? Gotta support the local fest!


HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 19

The long hall at Dole . . . it's not for the faint of heart.

Musings and notes from my third night of working HIFF and Day 6 of the festival:

  • Best job–Turning Over a Theater . . . One of the many tasks that theater ops (operations) volunteers are sometimes charged with is “turning over” a theater. This basically involves us going into theaters immediately after a film gets out, going through all the rows picking up trashing and throwing it away, and turning up all the armrests. It’s not a difficult job, but I know some people don’t like to do it because you have to pick up other moviegoers trash. It’s also a pretty critical one as well since the festival runs on a tight schedule and sometimes there may not be a lot of time in between films, so saving a few minutes by having us help clean the theater makes sense.

Why do I think it’s the best job? It’s the best job because you are able to make friends with the Dole theater staff. I had just finished turning over a theater and as I was walking out, two of the theater staff came in to clean up. Now I don’t know if they know that the festival is helping them out on cleanup duties, but they we’re really glad that all they had to do was sweep. Then later that night as me and another volunteer were in the middle of turning over another house, the same two theater workers came in and helped us finished. Afterward, while we were standing outside the theater workers came out and one of them asked us if we wanted anything to drink and offered to get us soda, juice, or water. I just opted for water, but he asked me again if I was sure cause he could get me soda. I told him it was cool. He came back a minute later with two small employee cups of ice water for me. I told him thanks and he turned around and told me, “no, thank you for helping us clean up.” Definitely great to know that we helped them out and that they were appreciative for the help. Oh, and getting cups of water wasn’t too bad either.

  • Problems with Volunteers . . . It never fails when you have free labor, you always have some people that will give you problems, HIFF being no exception. It took till Day 6, but Tuesday night I heard my first gossip from volunteers about other “problem” volunteers. I’m not going to go into details and since I’ve already sort of given my stance on this already, all I have to say is this: people [volunteers] need to realize why we’re there, know what the rules are and abide by them, and have the mentality that we’re they’re to work. If people could acknowledge these simple facts, things would be a lot easier for everyone, whether you’re a volunteers, staff, or festival patron. Believe it or not you can still have fun AND watch movies if you do your job. I have no sympathy for any volunteer that needs to be pulled on the side to be reminded of any of these things.

On the back of every volunteer's pass is a cheat sheet for the day, and it's pretty handy.

  • Cheat Sheets Come in Handy . . . To help us out with running things, on the back of every volunteer’s badge is a small spreadsheet that list all the films that are being shown for the day with tons of information such as: which theaters each film will be in, the running time, when it should start and get out, and a notes section for if people will be speaking before or after a film. It’s super handy as you can kind of plan out where you need to be ahead of time or if you’re just showing up, where a good place to go can be. Also, it helps you direct festival-goers to the right theaters if you’re on the opposite side. Definitely a lifesaver in a pinch.
  • Downtime in a movie theater . . . What do you do when you have 30-40 minutes to kill at a film festival? The obvious answer would be to go watch a movie. While that might be the case for most people, the truth is when there’s nothing you’re terribly interested in to watch, the alternatives aren’t that great. Definitely using the bathroom and sitting down top the list, but after that, the pickings are pretty slim. Eventually I just ended up sitting through the last 25 minutes of Hot Summer Days–mainly because it would be the next film to get out and I could do something productive by turning the theater over afterward. However, from what I did see it was kind of interesting as there were a ton of story arcs going on all at the same time.  Just goes to show you, you’ll never know about a film till you actually watch it (for a little bit anyway).


    • Even Our New Mayor Takes in the Festival . . . Yeah, the blurry picture above is of our new mayor Peter Carlisle believe it or not. I didn’t realize it was him till he was pretty much coming through the door, hence the blurry image. I give him props for coming out to the festival. Wonder if he got his sponsor badge before or after he won the election? If it was after, definitely not a bad perk! (I joke of course)

    With another night in the books and only four days left, who knows what else will happen.


    HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 17

    Popcorn box full of ripped ticket stubs.

    “Let me take that.” *rips ticket*  “Here you go, enjoy the film.”

    Yes, this is where all your ticket stubs end up . . . in little popcorn boxes on the floor of Dole Theaters. Where do they go after this? Who knows. On opening night they were collected, then Sunday night we were told they weren’t needed so we tossed them. I will say one thing though, whenever you need a container at the theaters, grabbing a popcorn box is definitely not a bad move. They’re quite multi-purpose. They not only hold popcorn/candy/drinks/hot dogs, but they can hold so much more as well.

    More musings after another night working HIFF . . .

    • Still meeting really cool people . . . worked with four, check that-make it five, cool people that I hadn’t worked with before. Same deal, we just introduced ourselves and talked during downtime and by the end of the night . . . everything was cool.
    • I don’t like cliques, never have . . . Call me old fashioned, too work oriented, too serious, or whatever, but I don’t understand why you would work something like this and limit yourself to sticking with your own group of friends. Yeah, I get that since you’re already with your friends, it makes sense that you would stick together and work together if you all decided to come to participate in an event like this. But I feel that this type of “grouping” might alienate you from the rest of the workers. I don’t know, like I said, maybe it’s just me. I don’t see why you can’t work with your friends, but be cool with other people as well. Maybe I’m just weird.
    • Saw old friends . . . Relatively speaking of course. Old as in Thursday night old. One of my “festival friends” that I mentioned in my previous post I saw again last night. She was taking a break and was on the floor seeing what was going on. Another guy I met on Thursday I saw coming out of The Housemaid. Said it was a typical K-drama but got kinda weird at the end. Korean cinema I tell you!
    • You can tell a lot about a film from the last 10 minutes . . . this I now know from firsthand experience. Caught the end of both The Housemaid and Legend of the Fist. While I won’t spoil the endings, from how each film ended, it definitely told me a lot about the tone and style of each film. Why did I just watch the last 10 minutes you might ask? Well, we were waiting to collect ballots before each film got out so some of us went in to check out how the movies were playing. Then right as the film ended we promptly ran out and took our ballot taking positions. Which leads us to this . . .
    HIFF ballots

    Yes, voting is important.

    • Everyone has their own system for counting ballots . . . Myself, I like the tick mark counting system. You know, make four marks and when you get to the fifth one you make a slash through the other four to count five. Well let me tell you, everyone has their own style. Saw someone do the count and write down, but perhaps the craziest one was where this guy I was working with seemingly laid out all the ballots in front of him and did this super quick counting. I don’t exactly know how he did it, but it was right.
    • Parking is horrendous leaving Dole . . . even at 11pm at night. Say everything you want about Dole, there is one thing you cannot deny–leaving the Dole parking structure after a 400 seat house gets out is not fun or quick. Check out the gridlock in the parking lot after the screening of Legend of the Fist got out at around 11pm.  I opted to just stand outside my car to wait till things died down. I can only imagine how much longer this line would have taken to subside if the parking attendant was still working (they were gone by this late hour).
    Cars leaving the Dole parking structure.

    The line to leave the structure . . . between floors five and six.

    All in all another great night working HIFF. Can’t wait to see what’s next.


    HIFF 2010: Diary of a HIFF Volunteer-Oct 14

    Shirt and badge issued to HIFF volunteers

    The shirt and badge issued to HIFF volunteers at check in.

    For those that may not know . . . I’m an event guy. Promotions, field marketing, running event operations–for some weird reason I like doing these sorts of things. And after a while of doing it, I’d like to think that I’m pretty ok at it. So naturally when I decided to volunteer for this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival I thought, why didn’t I do this sooner?

    Generally in the past my schedule has been really hectic, leaving me with scant opportunities to actually see films at the festival. Why then decide to volunteer this year when I usually only have limited availability anyway? Well, it’s mainly because volunteering at the festival takes two things that I like (movies and working events) and combines them together. While it won’t be easy balancing the time issues (from Sunday, October 17 through Sunday, October 24 I’ll be packing in the hours at the movies till the late hours) I’ve come to realize that sometimes you just need to make time for these types of opportunities.

    Here’s some of the things I learned my first day on the job on HIFF’s opening night:

    You meet and work with interesting people.
    From the people that are in charge of you, to your fellow grunts, to the people that you’re assisting at the event–you definitely meet and work with a lot of interesting people, and HIFF is no exception. From the moment I checked in on Thursday evening everyone that I dealt with was pretty nice and cordial. Slowly though as my shift went on, I slowly got a feeling for people, their personalities, and their demeanors. In many ways it was like the first day of school where you try to figure things out. Also like any first day, you slowly figure out who you’d like to be “friends” with. That first night I met and worked with two really great people and I hope I get to see or work with them again in the coming days. Both of them had great attitudes and had one or two years of HIFF experience under their belts (only their 2nd & 3rd years working the festival). Talking, joking, sharing stories, and working together definitely made the time pass by faster.

    Of course with any volunteer job, you always run into people who are “characters.” Now this isn’t a bad term, but there are always those whose personality definitely shines bright. Sometimes this could be a good thing, and sometimes this can be a bad thing, but it always adds color to your volunteer experience when you work with these individuals.  My experience at HIFF wouldn’t be as fun or as memorable if these people weren’t involved as well.

    No matter what the event, things always get hectic.
    You would think the life of a ticket taker is easy. Believe me when I say it’s not. For Thursday night’s big opening night film, two 400 seat house were made available for the film Under the Hawthorn Tree. Needless to say that is a lot of people. Now, while our job responsibilities are relatively straightforward, when you have a ton of people bombarding you (half of which don’t speak your language) any job can get overwhelming. My job was simple in theory, when people come to enter the theater it was our job as volunteers stationed there to 1) take their tickets, rip them, and return their stub to the patrons, and 2) to give them a ballot to vote on the film they were seeing.

    Well, when the lines started coming in it seemed like it was a cattle stampede. People seemed to move by in a blur and I made sure I did my best to rip tickets in a timely fashion, but when you’re dealing with such a huge mass of people, slow downs are bound to happen. However, I did my duty as best I could, ripping tickets and all the while explaining to people why we needed to do it, providing instructions, and making sure to do it all with enthusiasm in my voice and a smile on my face. What can I say, I’ve already explained that I’m an event guy–I love this stuff. So yeah, taking tickets for a movie . . . not as easy as one might think.

    Show up to work, but be sure to enjoy yourself.
    I can’t stress this enough. As a volunteer you’re there to work as your first priority–anything else after that should be gravy. It also means being open to do any job you’re called on to do. Through all of the work though, be sure to talk to your fellow volunteers, get to know them, make jokes when appropriate, and above all–be able to laugh at hilarious situations you guys find yourselves in. During the down time that I had on Thursday night, I did my best to talk with fellow volunteers. You know, the typical getting to know you stuff, but after a while you tend to bond with your fellow works and start to get a feel for people. As I mentioned earlier, I met and got to work with two really great people. It wasn’t long before we started trading jokes with one another and were having a great time . . . even though we were working. Work might be work, but it doesn’t have to feel that way.


    So those are just a few stories that I have to share from my first night of working HIFF. Who knows what kinds of interesting stuff will happen tonight . . .

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