Reflecting on HIFF

For this year’s Hawaii International Film Festival, I saw a total of 7 films: Prison Dogs, Things to Come, Indivisible, Lion, Toto, The Red Turtle, and Hentai Kamen 2: The Abnormal Crisis. Originally, I wanted to pick the films that were related to my major, International Studies. However, as I continued to read through the pamphlet, I found that the synopses for the other films really caught my attention. Out of all the films I saw, Indivisible and Lion were the top two that I really wanted to see, because of the issues that were relevant in the films.

The only press event I attended was the Opening Press Conference, which was very engaging. I, along with a couple of other HPU students, interacted with Peter Shaindlin, the Chief Operations Officer of Halekulani. The main topic revolving our conversation with him was on the relationship between technology and the “millennials.” This discussion was definitely in the top five of my favorite moments during this year’s HIFF.

However, the highlight of my entire HIFF experience this year would have to be the time when I got to meet the cast and crew for Toto. When I originally decided to see this film, it was mainly for the fact that I am Filipino and I thought, “Why not?” The entire movie had me laughing and I can honestly say that the film went beyond my expectations. It has become one of my favorite films this year (right next to Lion). The fact that I got to also meet the cast and crew, left me on an exhilarated high that day.

This entire experience at HIFF has been phenomenal. It really opened my eyes to the usage of film as a way to study culture. It did not matter that I could not understand the language, because I was still able to notice the cultural differences by the way they portrayed the stories in the film. For example, in American films, we are very familiar with the beginning, middle, and end sequence. In these storylines, there is a rise and fall of a hero, which eventually leads to the hero’s victory in the end. I have noticed that most European films do not follow that sequence. The storytelling is normally reflective of the way life is. There is no character development, nor is there always answers in the end.

I am not a Communications major or a Film major, so I was not able to accurately analyze the production of the film. However, the Writing minor in me was able to analyze the films through its story elements. Because of this, it made me realize that film critiquing can be done by anybody, depending on the different standards they have for films. Of course, those who have studied film are more equipped in providing a better film analysis because they are more aware in the different theories about film. However, this should not discourage others in providing their input on a film. This just means that they can analyze it through a different scope.

Overall, HIFF was a great experience for me. For almost every film I saw, I brought my fiancé with me. He also really enjoyed it. Prior to HIFF, I had no idea about the Public Relations field. After HIFF, I now know how much is work is put into managing these types of events. It takes a lot. I more than likely am not going to pursue a career in public relations, but it was really nice to have my foot dipped in to test the waters. It is really great the HIFF has this partnership with HPU because it is a great opportunity for students to experience this side of the media.

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