This Veteran’s Day, I had the chance to experience one all-encompassing day of 38th Annual Hawaii International Film Festival Presented by Halekulani (HIFF). My goal was simple: attend three different films in one day.
The first film I saw was I Used to Be Normal: A Boyband Fangirl Story. This was perhaps my least favorite event of the day. While I expected a documentary as vibrant and exciting as its subject matter, I got a documentary while focused soley on reflection, without any in-the-moment fangirling. I found myself wanting much more from the film in terms of visuals, energy and plot progression.
The next event I attended was a unique event which provided a nice change of pace. The event was a screening of clips from Disney’s Moana in ʻŌlelo Hawaiʻi intertwined with panel discussion from native-speaking translators and voice actors from the film. As a native Hawaiian, I chose to see this because I was really interested on the significance this film had to the greater Hawaiian community. The quality of the translated film was paralleled to the widely-adored original, and panel discussion gave great insight to the translation process and importance of film being made accessible to native Hawaiian speakers.
Finally, my highlight of the day was watching the French film Sink or Swim directed by Gilles Lellouche. As I expected, this film was filled with dry, unfiltered humour and incredibly lovable characters that I enjoyed through their whole adventure. What really made this film for me was its implicit commentary on masculinity and men’s emotional health; I was able to walk away with deeper though about the film’s place in society.
I’m generally not very interested in film and find it hard to be motivated to sit through them, but I think the environment at HIFF was a great way to feel immerged in film culture, and especially in the intercultural experience. I viewd films which showed how boybands are an international phenomenon, how important it is for indigenous children to have films in their native language, and how French cinema takes dry humor to a whole new level.
I think that HIFF is an excellent experience that could make any person, cinemaphile or not, appreciate the art of film. Not only does it provide an insight to film culture but to global culture as a whole. I firmly believe that this medium, especially in a setting such as HIFF, has the power to bring people together for a common understanding of one another.