At this year’s HIFF, I saw a total of four films. The films that I saw, in order, were 6B, Paradise Broken, With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, and Patang. I chose 6B and Paradise Broken because they were filmed in Hawaii and told real local stories. Another big reason I chose these films is that Hawaii author Chris McKinney helped contribute stories to 6B and wrote the entire screenplay of Paradise Broken. I read his book The Tattoo earlier this year and loved it, so when I heard that he was a part of two HIFF films, I knew that I had to watch them. I attended two Media Press Events: the Opening Day Conference and the Closing Conference.
The highlight of the film festival was probably the first night, when I watched 6B and Paradise Broken back to back. These films were so powerful to me and I absolutely loved them. I was too shy to ask questions or even talk to the actors and filmmakers afterwards, so I had to beg my boyfriend to ask Dante Basco (star of Paradise Broken) to take a picture with us. Taking that picture with him added a lot to my experience.
Participating in HIFF was such a new concept to me. I’ve never been interested in journalism and things of that nature, but after this experience, I find it a little more interesting. It felt so amazing to be a part of something so much greater than myself. There are so many people involved in the film-making process and in the festival, and I felt privileged to be able to hear them speak about their craft.
One film, The Stan Lee Story, was informative yet entertaining enough to keep my attention (since I’m a Marvel Comics fan). This film taught me many things not only about Stan Lee, but about life in general. It taught me that if I have any dreams or passions, I should definitely pursue them, and do so wholeheartedly.
Paradise Broken opened my eyes to the darker side of Hawaii. I have lived here my whole life, so I know that Hawaii isn’t the perfection we see on postcards, but that it also has its share of crime and struggle. This film just reinforced that fact, very true to McKinney’s style of storytelling. It was so gritty and disturbing, but in a good way; it was wild, exciting, painful, tragic, at some instances funny, but most of all, real. After the film, an audience member asked McKinney why his writing style is so dark, and he replied that he’s not dark—he’s real. He just wants to show people out there that Hawaii has its share of darkness too, just like any other place in the world. I have nothing negative to say about this film because it is that good; if it ever comes out on DVD, I would buy it.
Most of the films I watched were local/American, but I did watch one foreign film: Patang. This film took place in India and told the story of family relationships being challenged by previous conflicts, using the major kite festival as a backdrop for the story. Prior to this film, I had heard of a similar festival in Afghanistan when I read The Kite Runner, but I didn’t know there was such a festival in India. Director Prashant Bhargava said that this festival is so crucial to the Indian culture because it bridges gaps in gender, socioeconomic status (rich vs. poor), and religion (Hinduism vs. Islam). No matter who or what you are, on this day, you are equal to everyone else. Everyone gets together and celebrates with family and friends. I thought this was a very beautiful thing.
I would most definitely recommend HIFF to a friend. It’s so much better than watching regular movies at the theater because these films have more substance. They still have the action that Americans like (maybe not as much as the typical American person does), but also richer dialogue and more interesting storylines. Even the shooting techniques are better; these filmmakers put more love into their craft, so there are better camera angles, lighting, etc. Another advantage is that you can speak with the directors, actors, and crew after the film, and you don’t even have to be a member of the press to do so. Overall, the experience is so rich and I can’t see why anyone wouldn’t want to attend HIFF.