Last weekend concluded the 36th annual Hawaii International Film Festival, and was it one for the books. From the local documentaries to the Asian Dramas, there were thousands of people that walked through the doors of the theatre to immerse in the films.
This year at HIFF, I was fortunate enough to have seen three films: Prison Dogs, That Demon Within, and The Freedom to Marry. Both Prison Dogs and The Freedom to Marry were documentary films, which is a genre I tend to lean towards the most. There is something about watching actual people face challenges and seeing how they overcome them that I enjoy watching. I wrote a review for both of these films that you can read here and here. That Demon Within was a Japanese action film, which was something I would have never thought about seeing myself. But since the film was screened at HPU, I didn’t have much of a reason to not go; and I am glad I did. It was a film that I surprisingly very much enjoyed and have recommended to several people now. I also wrote a review that you can take a look at here.
Unfortunately, due to scheduling, I was not able to take full advantage of the press badges that HPU gives out to us. There were many press events such as the opening conference, awards ceremony, and red carpet events that I would have loved to attend. These events are a great way to meet those involved in the films that are shown at HIFF. Some of these films take up to a decade to create, produce, and edit; it would have been a privilege to have spoken to a few of these directors about their film. Hopefully I get the opportunity to participate in HIFF and attend these exciting events next year.
I have attended HIFF twice now, and this year was my first year having a press badge. Although I didn’t take full advantage of it, I was able to see more than one film, which was exciting because there were many films that intrigued me this year. I don’t have many years of HIFF experience to compare it to, but from what I have heard I can predict that the film lineup this year was one of the best. There was not one movie that did not intrigue me; they all had something unique incorporated into the storyline and I wish I had the time to see them all.
I am extremely grateful for the collaboration between HIFF and HPU. Even if you are not into becoming a film maker, you have the opportunity to learn all about these films and the culture that they are based off of; that is what I love most about HIFF. Even though I have never been to Asia, some of these films make me feel as if I am there alongside the actors, exploring the streets of Japan or China. What is most unique is that a majority of these films have never been shown to the public yet. HIFF is the first time they are being premiered in front of an audience. We are the first ones to lay eyes on the film and we get to tell those involved directly how we felt about it; that experience is unlike any other.
I recommend anyone who is even the slightest bit interested in the Hawaii International Film Festival to go and check out a film or two next year. I know I will be there.