At the 37th Hawaii International Film Festival I watched a total of three films, including, Glass Garden (2017), Downsizing (2017), and The Endless (2017). I decided to watch Glass Garden because it seemed like it had an interesting and unique narrative, and I was excited to see how Yun Ji-woon, the cinematographer, captured nature and used lighting to evoke feeling. Furthermore, I wanted to see Downsizing because it seemed like a humorous and original film that explored sustainability. As well I absolutely love Matt Damon, so I was excited to see him in another film. Lastly, I wanted to watch The Endless because it is about a cult and aliens, and I was extremely intrigued to find out how the two concepts connected in the films narrative. For me personally the highlight of HIFF was seeing Matt Damon in Downsizing. He is such an amazing actor. All his films are entertaining and I was very pleased with the production of Downsizing.
I believe participating in HIFF means going to screenings, talking about the films you’ve watched, and talking to directors and contributors of the films when given the chance. As well as getting more of an insight on HIFF in general, what the islands festivals are screening, talking about, and doing for the community. I learned that next year HIFF wants to make the festival more local in its selections to it films. I think this is good, however, I feel that HIFF should incorporate more international films and make the festival a two-month event instead. Hawaii is certainly a great place to have an international film festival that incorporates films from all over the world. I personally believe that we should have another film festival that focuses more on local films, that is separate from HIFF screenings.
All the films I’ve watched at HIFF have influenced me. After taking a film theory class, I analyze films more in depth with theories and the way films go about presenting their narrative and their characters. As well, I am very interested in cinematography so it is interesting looking at cinematography in the Korean film Glass Garden, compared to United States cinematography in The Endless and Downsizing. After watching Glass Garden the director of the film, Shin Su-won, talked about her inspiration behind the script. Discussing the idea that people in Korea that are disable are called vegetables, and Shin Su-won wanted to explore this idea by adding beauty to the label by placing Jae-yeon in the forest, hoping to bring light to the label of disability in Korea. Furthermore, looking at Downsizing it is interesting to see, that although the film explored the idea of sustainability, it represented the society in Leisureland much like the society we have currently today. I felt that the film would have explored the theme of social class and minority more than it did. Although Downsizing was a truly incredible hilarious film, I would have liked to see the film explore and defy the stereotypical portrayals and surface level themes of classic Hollywood tropes in its film.
I personally feel that Hawaii Pacific University’s collaboration with the Hawaii International Film Festival is a useful learning experience that I would not have gotten anywhere else. The ability to get an all access pass to conferences and screening has given me more of an opportunity to experience HIFF and become more involved with films around the world, and learn more about cultures and their film making techniques. I would absolutely recommend HIFF to friends and family. I think films are important, and Hollywood films fall flat of using the cinema platform to explore and push social limits, in which international and indie films can provide more variety and different film experiences that you aren’t going to get in the regular United States movie theater.