As the vanguard forum of international cinematic achievement in the Asia-Pacific region, Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) endeavors to recognize new and emerging talent, promote career development and original collaborations through innovative education programs, and facilitate dynamic cultural exchange through the cinema arts.
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HIFF started as a project of the East-West Center, an educational and research institution created by U.S. Congress and located on the University of Hawai'i Manoa campus in Honolulu. Jeannette Paulson Hereniko was HIFF’s Founding Director, from 1981 to 1996.
In 1981, HIFF’s inaugural year, the program consisted of seven films from six countries which were viewed by an audience of 5,000.
HIFF has become a premiere cinematic event in the Pacific and annually attracts more than 70,000 film enthusiasts from around the state, the nation and throughout the world.
In 2019, in its 39th edition, HIFF will present 200 films from 45 countries. HIFF is one of the premier film festivals in the United States and the only festival spread across an archipelago.
HIFF is unique in discovering features, documentaries and shorts from Asia made by Asians, films about the Pacific made by Pacific Islanders, and films made by Hawai'i filmmakers that present Hawai'i in a culturally accurate way.
Each year in preparation for the event, HIFF programmers view some 1,000 films and choose an average of 150 features, documentaries and film shorts. Among them are world premieres, North American premieres, U.S. premieres, experimental films, animation and digital works representing social and ethnic issues, and first features by new directors.
HIFF also conducts seminars, workshops, special award presentation receptions with top Asian, Pacific and North American filmmakers participating.
Since its inception, more than 950,000 people from throughout the world have shared HIFF film screenings and insights.
HIFF audiences reflect the diverse multi-cultural face of Hawai'i. For example, Chinese Americans see films from Japan; Japanese Americans see films from Korea. In so doing, HIFF helps to enrich, enlighten and broaden support for Asian and Pacific films by HIFF members, film festival fans and new audiences alike.