Hawaii International Film Festival kicks off

By Ramsay Wharton – bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - International film festivals are no longer considered just for cinema junkies, they've gone mainstream.

And Hawaii's International Film Festival, or HIFF, is no different.

This really has evolved into a major international festival of film," said Peter Shaindlin, CEO of the Halekulani Corporation, HIFF's presenting sponsor.

Thirty-one years ago, the East-West Center gave birth to HIFF to advance cultural understanding. At this morning's opening press conference at the Sheraton Waikiki, San Francisco musician turned actor, Goh Nakamura, greeted local and international press and spoke about playing himself in the film Surrogate Valentine.

"It's sort of like a buddy film. We go on the road and he annoys me," said Nakamura. "And there's a girl from my past."

Enhanced movie making technology means more movies, and more variety for movie goers.

According to Honolulu Managing Director, Doug Chin, an estimated 79,000 people are expected to check out one of the 216 selected HIFF films from 43 different countries. That translates to big ticket sales and lots of popcorn and milk duds being sold at the Regal Dole Cannery Stadium Theaters where the HIFF films are featured.

Gertie Hara of Honolulu came with a friend. "We're going to see the Buddhist and Thelma," she added.

There's something for everyone, from big budget American films like Steven Spielberg's, Super 8, to Butter, featuring Jennifer Garner and Hugh Jackman and even European films, like the French Oscar Awards contender The Artist.

Princess Dialta Alliata di Montereale is the director of public relations for EuroCinema Hawaii. The group has helped to create a festival within the HIFF festival of sorts, by introducing European films to the HIFF last year.

"It's not, I don't want to go and read the subtitles. You can even...not read the subtitles," she stressed. "You can enjoy the scenery, the sound of the language the panorama, the landscape. You learn." Princess Dialta encourages parents to expose children to foreign lands, through foreign films.

By watching this year's films, you can learn about Korea, even skateboarding in Afghanistan, and even how surfing came to be in Papua New Guinea.

Splinters, is on Mary Jane Koob's long list. She said the film about the island nation tells how, "someone left a surfboard there and now they want to compete."

Koob is a HIFF member and paid $35 a year for her membership. The young "senior" said she plans on seeing four movies a day, paying her discounted senior rate of $8 a film.

And of course, there are plenty of films made in Hawaii. Among them, Paradise Broken and 6B. The Descendants, which has gotten a lot of local media attention, sold out early, but it's expected to hit theatres late November.

Koob said everyone should come see what HIFF has to offer.

These are well done films," said Koob. "Films are getting better and better. The slice of life. You know the personalities are developed. The characters are developed. They're awesome."

Most tickets are $12 with cheaper prices available for seniors, military, students, and kids.

To checkout all the HIFF films, dates and times: www.HIFF.com

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