The 37th Hawaii International Film Festival presented by Halekulani has finally come to a close, and what a festival it has been. As somebody who is popping their film festival cherry with this year’s HIFF, I can say that I could get used to attending such events, especially with the addition of a complementary press pass. The feeling of joy and camaraderie I feel when in the presence of so many independent film lovers like myself is inescapable and unmatched, and this, in part, is what will drive me to not only next year’s HIFF, but many other film festivals throughout the rest of my life. This was a truly special experience for a number of reasons.
Firstly, getting to actually see some of the filmmakers involved with some of these projects was both humbling and interesting, and this comes from the two screenings I attending at this year’s festival which included a live Q&A after viewing the film. These two films were Ottomaticake and Thor: Ragnarok, which both included a live Q&A and introduction by the film’s director. The director of the former film, a documentarian by the name of Gemma Cubero del Barrio, reminded me of why independent cinema (and documentaries, for that matter) contains much more heart and vision than most things audiences experience through the big screen.
Likewise, I was inspired beyond even my own expectations by the funny and insightful Q&A that Thor: Ragnarok director and actor Taika Waititi gave after a packed auditorium viewed the film earlier this morning. The amount of patience he showed with the audience and the fast pace of the festival staff was humbling, but above all else, he was absolutely hilarious. Everything the man said when posed a question from the audience about his future or past in filmmaking was clever and well thought out, even though he was coming up with these answers on the spot. This gave me a sense of what it must have been like to be on the set of the recent Marvel Studios hit, as Waititi once stated in an interview that a very hefty portion of the film’s dialogue was improvised. Being familiar with his directing and writing work (especially in the last few years), I noticed many times where his influence as a director showed through in the comedy coming from the characters in every scene. Overall, this was an experience I will never forget, and I have only talked about two (out of a total of twenty, not including Thor) films I saw this year at HIFF.
I believe I witnessed the films of 2017 which will comprise most of the pool of next year’s Golden Globe and Oscar nominees. Performances like those found in Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut Lady Bird, as well as Darkest Hour, Call Me By Your Name, and I, Tonya will be remembered as the highs of the careers of many of the talented folk involved in those productions. Categories which I thought were a lock for a win next year in awards season, like Roger Deakins’ work in Blade Runner 2049 possibly winning Best Cinematography, are now a true race, and that is something I never expected to see come out of this festival.
Going along these lines, all of the previously-mentioned films are among my favorites of this entire year, as I believe they represent the best that both American and International cinema have to offer the artistic world. I would recommend all of the films that I have mentioned in this article, especially if you are a self-described film lover like myself. These films will make you appreciate the effort that goes into filmmaking that much more, as well as inspire you to create such invigorating and unique works as the ones I saw at the 37th Hawaii International Film Festival presented by Halekulani.