This past Monday, I was fortunate enough to attend The Vilcek Foundation’s reception for the New American Filmmakers at the Halekulani Hotel. The Vilcek Foundation is an organization dedicated to honoring and supporting immigrants who contribute to the sciences, arts, and culture in the United States. The organization was founded by Jan and Marica Vilcek in 2000 and in partnership with HIFF, sponsors the New American Filmmakers (NAF) program. This program honors foreign-born filmmakers working in the United States. Six delegates came to HIFF this year. Goh Nakamura, Alexandre Philippe, Radium Cheung, Nicholas Bruckman, Mridu Chandra, and Ronen Landa all were in attendance.
I would not have been able to attend this fantastic event without two people, Brian Cavanaugh and Phuong Pham who I met at the opening press conference. They invited me to the reception, where I got to formally meet with Rick Kinsel, the Executive Director of The Vilcek Foundation. The reception included meeting many involved with film. Writers, directors, cinematographers, actors, and producers were in abundance and it was great talking with them. What happened after the reception was a surreal experience. A bunch of us went over to RumFire at the Sheraton Waikiki for a surprise set by Goh Nakamura, the actor/writer/musician in Daylight Savings. At one point in the evening, I was sitting there thinking, how the hell did I end up here?
Radium Cheung, the cinematographer for Starlet, really evoked some deep motivation in me. This industry, this career that I’m pursuing, doesn’t provide the steadiness of work as most other professions. We hope on the next project, but we persist and continue to work. Radium Cheung told me story of his younger days of working in New York City, where he would commute between New Jersey and New York City daily to productions. After a long day of shooting, he was faced with a decision. After the subway took him to his stop, Radium could either catch a bus home for a dollar or walk another fifteen minutes. It was an easy decision for Radium; he walked every night. It’s his love of film that carried him home; it’s his passion for his work that made him get up before sunrise.
After leaving RumFire, walking down Waikiki was sort of a “twilight zone” experience because I felt that I left with a newfound motivation to write, practice writing, and totally immersing myself in the craft. Hearing testimonies of how tremendously hard people work to end up in a position where they are now recognized for it is resounding. I, like many of my classmates here at HIFF enjoy film and are captivated by the stories these films provide. However, I feel as if this experience doesn’t have to be a one-sided conversation. I encourage my peers at HPU to be interactive. Go forth and create.