Before HIFF, I was accustomed to watching movies with company. Early on I believed that movies have a way of bringing people together to share ideas and experiences. I rapidly grew used to sitting with someone and sharing movie moments together. This was the pillar of adulthood where I gained an appreciation for solo watching good films. It’s the act of sitting in solitude (besides the other audience members) and simply just feeling. When someone is around we, as humans tend to feel the need to share our reaction. However, as I sat at the Dole theater, I experienced the art of film consumption from strictly a first person perspective: It was magical.
I saw a total of 4 films. I chose from many by the plots that were given before the viewings. I wanted to choose character forward films that had wide variety in genre. Just Mercy was my first film and it simply blew me away. Not only did it host a powerhouse performance by the cast, but also a culture bending dialogue, that many can resonate. I was touched most by this film because it made me think more in depth about the validity of capital punishment.
I chose For Sama to honor my deep rooted love for documentaries and other forms of exploratory filmmaking. I was in horror throughout the duration of it, and anger that I was late on the topic of Syria’s long war in the Middle East. Films like this and 7 Seconds opened me up to the international films that don’t get enough credit. I learned if I look beyond subtitles I will see transformative stories of real people from all walks of life. I felt closer to them than ever before, especially sitting only a few rows behind John Woo, as he spoke on his creation of The Killers. His work from Asian cinema is groundbreaking, and I was in awe as he broke down his process.
Participating in HIFF gave me the opportunity to expand my movie vocabulary and show mass appreciation to a very complicated art. I feel heavily influenced to watch everything now. Since opening night, many movies have found their way onto my bucket list. I want to read more subtitles, analyze more scenes, and connect to more characters. I feel even more compelled to learn a new language. I want to visit more film capitals of the world and learn their way of production. I’m learning that there are so many styles and influences that aren’t originated in the west that I’d like to study.
This collaboration is perfect way for students to dive into Hawaii’s film community. I met so many students, production workers, and all around movie lovers alike. I would easily recommend it to anyone who wants to get out of their head and instead into a deep new world. Lastly, I will also suggest to bring a notebook for notes, inspirations, and overall reflections. I find the best ears to be leather bound.