My last experience as an HPU student at HIFF was nothing short of memorable. I was able to experience the festival in a way that I never explored film, reporting, or writing. This was also the most I have ever participated in HIFF events.
Over the course of the festival, I saw nine films. The films that I saw were The Kids, Midori in Hawaii (watched twice), 100 Yen Love, The Last Saint, In Utero, La La La at Rock Bottom, Seoul Searching, Wonderful World End (watched twice), and The Invitation.
I chose these particular films because they were either a genre that I enjoy (documentary with In Utero, suspense with The Invitation), developed in a country whose films I enjoy (Japan: Wonderful World End, 100 Yen Love, La La La at Rock Bottom, Midori in Hawaii. Korea: Seoul Searching), or had an amazing synopsis/plot (The Last Saint, The Kids). I was not disappointed with my choices.
Overall, my favorite film was Seoul Searching. If you watch this film, you can tell that this film indeed did take 16 years to make. The characters are colorful and unforgettable, the 80s film vibe is spot on, and the story is both entertaining and satisfying.
The film that I liked the least was La La La at Rock Bottom. I expected much more from this film because I was familiar with the main actor, but I was disappointed with the film’s lack of plot. It was almost if this film was a failed attempt to be a rock musical movie.
EBERT YOUNG WRITERS PROGRAM FOR THE ARTS
For this session of HIFF, I was fortunate to have been accepted as a part of the first group for the Ebert Young Writers Program for the Arts.The program’s goal was to broaden and strengthen film criticism culture in Hawaii and teach young writers classical, as well as current methods and tasks in critical thinking and writing by reviewing films and interviewing filmmakers in a live film festival setting. Being a part of the program, I had the privilege of being mentored by award winning filmmaker, educator and film critic Kevin B. Lee as well as talk story with other renowned film critics. For someone who doesn’t enjoy film as much, I was surprised at how interesting the experience was for me. I was able to learn how important film critique is to not only a general audience, but to a filmmaker as well. With this experience, I gain a new found respect for the art in writing film reviews.
Another thing about this program that I enjoyed was the encouragement to create reviews in more nontraditional, new-age ways. Since I have an interest in working in radio broadcasting, I decided to do a podcast for one of the films. Not only did I have a more enjoyable time doing my review, I was literally able to add my own voice to my opinion, combining something that I once thought was tedious with something I am passionate about.
With my experience in the program, I took the opportunity to interview one of the directors for one of the films that showcased at this year’s fall showing. For me personally, it was a major highlight of my HIFF experience because the director, John Hill, made a Japanese film with an all Japanese cast. For someone who likes Japanese films and culture, it was amazing for me to talk to a creative I had so much in common with, from same hometown to living in neighboring cities in Japan. Interviewing him gave me some inspiration to entertain the idea of creating a film or piece that is in a second language.
The HPU and HIFF collaboration is an opportunity that I feel like many media students take for granted. To be a part of a film festival like HIFF is unique because of the location of Hawaii and the art that is brought here due to it. Prior to HIFF, I was unaware of the film culture that existed in Hawaii, but now I see that it is a culture that is truly underrepresented about should be more of a forefront of discussion.
I hope to see more HPU and HIFF collaborations in the future, especially students and alumni submitting their own films.