|Scene from the Japanese film "The Taste of Tea."|
The Hawaii International Film Festival gives locals and visitors a look at some of the most adventurous moviemaking on either side of the Pacific.
By FRANK EPISALE
In its 24th year, the Hawaii International Film Festival featured 168
films from 24 countries over the course of 11 days, including 9 world
premieres, 18 U.S. premieres and 70 Hawaii premieres. This impressive
diversity is built into the mission statement of the festival, which
seeks to promote cultural diversity and understanding through the medium
Like so much else in Hawaii, the festival is dominated by
East-meets-West themes, with East often making the stronger showing. Of
this year's nominated features, 4 out of 5 were Asian: "Baytong," "Low
Life," "South of the Clouds," and "Taste of Tea." "Take Out," the fifth
nominated feature, was American but is set in New York's Chinatown and
the vast majority of the dialogue is in Mandarin. Interestingly, though,
only one of the nominated documentaries was Asian: South Korea's "And
Thereafter." The rest, including Jessica Yu's fascinating "In the Realms
of the Unreal" were either American or European.
|HAWAII FILM FESTIVAL|
|Featuring 168 films from 24 countries.
October 21-31, 2004.|
Related links: Official site
| RELATED ARTICLES|
Hawaii Film Festival 2004|
In addition to the nominated films, the festival hosted a series of high-
profile galas, including Otomo Katsuhiro's long-awaited "Steamboy" and the
opening night selection "Clean" written and directed by Olivier Assayas and
featuring the extraordinary Maggie Cheung.
Cheung's presence at the festival was substantial. In addition to
appearing in "Clean," she served as one of the three jury panelists and
received the festival's first ever Achievement in Acting Award. The
other jursists were actor David Wenham ("Lord of the Rings," "Gettin'
Square") and film critic Emanuel Levy. Mr. Levy, no stranger to
festivals, was particularly impressed that he hadn't yet seen any of the
The remaining films were divided into thematic categories, including a
special focus on Shanghai cinema, a series of "surf films," and Eastern
and Western showcases. Demonstrating a strong commitment to the local
production of film, the festival also presented 31 films that were made
in Hawaii, including several shorts from students at the University of
Hawaii's new Academy for Creative Media.
The university presence was felt in one of the festival's several
seminars as well. In an interesting move, a heavily promoted panel
discussion of local video game production featured several student
presentations of video games developed in class and focused heavily on
the concept of video games as an emerging narrative art form.
Long a favorite of many critics and magazines, the festival had a record
turnout this year, with many sold-out screenings and lines around the
block for gala presentations. All indicators (including their first-ever
corporate name sponsor, Louis Vuitton) point towards a festival
continuing to expand its ambitions and its impact, and striving to live
up to its reputation as what Travel and Leisure Magazine called "One of
the ten best film festivals around the world."
Tragedy propels a monk out of his monastery and into Thai society, with occasionally forced comedy but with often touching results as well.
Maggie Cheung is a trilingual whirlwind as a mother fighting heroin in Olivier Assayas' "Clean," which drags too much to do justice to its tri-continental performances.
|| In the Realms of the Unreal
"In the Realm of the Unreal" describes the life of a reclusive and somewhat creepy school janitor who died and left behind a 15,000-page illustrated children's book.
|| South of the Clouds
Noteworthy Chinese filmmaker Zhu Wen explores his country's remote southern region.
"Steamboy," from the maker of "Akira," transports the anime concept to industrial-age London, with strange and intriguing results.
|| Take Out
NYU film grads Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou do a lot of good things with their low-budget depiction of a Chinese-food delivery slave, although they tack on a needlessly hokey ending.
Son of the South Jonathan Caouette has documented his life from performance-loving youngster with a camera in Texas to adult gay man in New York, using a lifetime of homemade films to construct the unorthodox documentary "Tarnation."
|NOVEMBER 9, 2004|
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