05-15 November 2020

Festivals & Events


November 17, 2019

HIFF39 Festival Award Winners Plus Newly Created Made in Hawai‘i HIFF Production Fund to Launch in 2020

MOLOKA‘I BOUND wins Best Made in Hawai‘i Film, DOWN ON THE STREET IN WAIKIKI wins 2nd Place; 37 SECONDS wins KAU KA HŌKŪ Award with Honorable Mentions for HEARTS AND BONES and THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME; NETPAC Award goes to ANOTHER CHILD .

November 16, 2019 (Honolulu, HI) - The 39th edition of the Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) presented by Halekulani announced their Jury winners at a private awards gala yesterday evening. The Best Made In Hawai‘i Award winner is MOLOKA‘I BOUND directed by Alika Maikau. The jurors also awarded a second place award to DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK IN WAIKĪKĪ, directed by Justyn Ah Chong. The jury also awarded an Honorable Mention to Ellsha Johnston for her role of Kiana in Chelsi Johnston’s film, DRIVING.

The Jurors shared their thoughts on the winning films: “This yearʻs Made in Hawai‘i  category films, which in their own way speak beautifully to each filmmakerʻs connection to these islands. As a jury, we were taken by the performances we saw by children in several of these films. One performance stood out to us for its honesty and realism, such an impressive feat given how young the performer is. It is my privilege to give honorable mention to Ellsha Johnston in the role of Kiana in Chelsi Johnstonʻs film DRIVING. 

“Our Second Place Winner, DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK IN WAIKĪKĪ directed by Justyn Ah Chong, is a film with standout editing and cinematography which takes us to this very area with a perspective that feels authentic to this community. 

“This yearʻs First Place Made in Hawai‘i  Winner thrives on its unselfconscious simplicity. The details of this film were truly Polynesian in nature, but its overall sensibility is universal. With honest performances, particularly from its child lead, and clean editing, we are proud to award Alika Maikauʻs MOLOKA‘I BOUND.”

The jury in the Made In Hawai‘i category included: Ciara Lacy (director, Out of State), Jonah Ray (Mystery Science Theater 3000), Mareva Leu (Festival Director, Festival International du Film Documentaire Oceania).

The Made In Hawai‘i competition film awards category was launched in 2017 to spotlight the flourishing local independent film scene on the Hawai‘i an Islands. Fiction, non-fiction, and short films that are made by locally-based filmmakers or involve locally-based stories are eligible for the Best Made In Hawai‘i award, which comes with a cash prize of $5,000 for first place and $2,500 for second. 

In continuation of HIFF’s commitment to cultivating and supporting filmmakers on the Hawai‘i an Islands, HIFF announced during the event that the Made in Hawai‘i HIFF Production Fund which will launch in 2020 with the support of the Nichols Family Film Fund. The fund will award up to $30,000 to mid-career and established filmmakers and films from and about Hawai‘i.

“On the eve of our 40th anniversary, HIFF embarks on a new era of growth and revitalization that envisions Hawai'i as the ultimate destination for creators, industry professionals, and cinema lovers alike through a shared passion for storytelling, innovation, and the power of film. To continue our support of the film community here in Hawai‘i , I am proud to announce the 2020 launch of the Made In Hawai‘i  Production Fund. This fund will provide a unique and highly valuable resource in support of authentic and innovative storytellers in the production of their original work. It is a necessary and timely investment into our creative community, as Hawai‘i 's filmmakers and stories continue to prosper on the global stage. We are grateful to be working in vision with the Nichols Family Film Fund on this initiative,” said HIFF Executive Director Beckie Stocchetti.

All films in Shorts programs #1 - 4, plus the Pacific Showcase Shorts and 

Made in Hawai‘i programs are eligible for the HIFF Best Short Film Award. This year, the jury decided to present an award for Best Documentary Short and for Best Narrative Short. This year’s HIFF Best Documentary Short Film Award is ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN, directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan. The HIFF Best Narrative Short recipient is LILIU, directed by Jeremiah Tauamiti.

From the jury: “These films resonated with us because they depict characters who defy systemic injustice both past and present. For its honest and emotional journey of a remarkable individual and unlikely politician, the award for Best Documentary Short goes to ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan. For its gripping performances and story of open resistance against a colonial land rights system, the award for Best Narrative Short goes to LILIU, directed by Jeremiah Tauamiti.

The HIFF Best Short Film jurors included: Hieu Ho (Imminent Collision), Malinda Wink, (director, Good Pitch Australia), Sharon Badal (Tribeca Film Festival).

HIFF also announced the Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award Presented by Hawai‘i an Airlines, which is given to an emerging filmmaker who has completed their first or second feature film. Both fiction and non-fiction feature films were nominated to the category by the festival programmers. This year’s award recipient is 37 SECONDS directed by Hikari. The jury also presented honorable mentions to THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME directed by Joe Odagiri, and HEARTS AND BONES directed by Ben Lawrence.

The jury remarks, “We were impressed by the range and diversity of the eleven feature films in competition. It was encouraging to see the creativity and skills displayed in these first or second works of the filmmakers and we wish them all well in their careers and look forward to their future works. For this year's Kau Ka Hōkū award, our jury was impressed by a film that told a moving story with refreshing originality. Its writer and director rooted the screenplay in authenticity, cast the lead actor perfectly, and directed with grace, insight and wit. The 2019 Kau Ka Hōkū Award goes to Hikari, for her film 37 SECONDS.”

The jury also shared these remarks regarding the Honorable Mentions: “The first, for its beauty and simplicity, goes to Joe Odagiri's THEY SAY NOTHING STAYS THE SAME. The second, for this very accomplished first feature's complex and nuanced approach, goes to Ben Lawrence's HEARTS AND BONES.”

The Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award Jurors are: Cameron Bailey (Co-Head and Artistic Director, Toronto International Film Festival), Janet Pierson (Festival Director, SXSW Film), Roger Garcia (former Executive Director, Hong Kong International Film Society).

The evening’s honorees were recognized for their commitment to excellence in their field. Honorees were announced during a press conference before the festival kicked off. The 2019 Halekulani Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to director John Woo, an icon of Hong Kong action cinema and one of the most influential and iconic Asian directors of all time. Woo’s vast filmography is a who’s who of Hong Kong cinema, collaborating with heavyweights from Jackie Chan to Chow Yun-Fat to produce classics such as HAND OF DEATH and THE KILLER. Moving to the United States in the 1990s, Woo directed some of the most iconic action films of the decade, including FACE/OFF and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE 2. Known for his intense action sequences, virtuoso fight choreography and innovative genre-bending, Woo’s work continues to have a lasting impact on action genre filmmaking across the world, influencing an entire generation of auteurs, from Quentin Tarantino to the Wachowskis.

The Halekulani Career Achievement Award is bestowed to an artist who has reached the career pinnacles very few have achieved through industry awards and accolades, and a body of work that is known globally. This year, HIFF presented the award to Elisabeth Moss for her tremendous body of work that showcases her remarkable depth and versatility as an actor. From her breakout role in THE WEST WING to her iconic performance as Peggy Olson in MAD MEN and her culture-defining leading role in THE HANDMAID'S TALE, Moss is a defining figure of the “Peak TV” era. Her prolific and adventurous film career demonstrates an astonishing capacity for reinvention. She is also set to join the cast of Taika Waititi’s latest film, NEXT GOAL WINS, which is being shot entirely on Oahu. In addition to her dynamic and impressive film career, Moss is an enduring champion for women in the arts, for which HIFF is proud to honor her in 2019.

The Halekulani Maverick Award is given to a cinema artist who has a unique and eclectic career trajectory, contributing to international cinema and the filmed arts in an innovative way. They do things on their own terms, creating work that can have a rabid, cult following to a mass appreciation in today’s pop culture.  Past recipients were Awkwafina, Kevin Smith, Simon Yam and Kal Penn. This year, HIFF presented the award to actor and writer Randall Park. Park starred in a short film called DRAGON OF LOVE that won the HIFF Audience Award in 2003, which was written and produced by his partners in the recently announced production company, Imminent Collision. 

The Hawai‘i  International Film Festival's PIC Trailblazer Award is presented to a cinema artist of Pacific Islander heritage who broadens the scope of Pacific Islander stories onto the world stage, producing award winning work in independent and global cinema, becoming a trendsetter in their field and a cultural ambassador that shines a spotlight on Pacific islander culture in mainstream media. 

The 2019 HIFF Pacific Islanders in Communications Trailblazer Award was given to Stan Grant, a Wiradjuri and Kamilaroi man, and one of Australia’s most-prominent advocates for Indigenous rights. A highly-accomplished journalist and scholar, Grant was a senior correspondent for CNN where he reported across the Middle East and Asia, and now writes regularly on international affairs. He came to international prominence in 2016 with his speech “The Australian Dream,” profoundly articulating the injustice faced by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians in what was widely-lauded as “Australia’s Martin Luther King Jr. moment.”

The NETPAC Award is presented annually at international film festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam, Pusan, Singapore, Taiwan, Yamagata, Amiens and Hawai‘i . HIFF is the only film festival in North America given permission to present the NETPAC award. This year’s NETPAC Award winner is ANOTHER CHILD by Yoon-Seok Kim.

The Audience Awards for Favorite Narrative Feature, Documentary and Short Film, presented by Hawai‘i  News Now, will be announced on Tuesday, November 19 on the HIFF website at www.hiff.org.

For more information, visit the Awards & Juries page



Best Made In Hawai‘i Award: 
MOLOKA‘I BOUND directed by Alika Maikau (First place)
DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK IN WAIKĪKĪ, directed by Justyn Ah Chong (Second place)

HIFF Best Overall Documentary Short: 
ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN, directed by Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan

HIFF Best Overall Narrative Short:
LILIU, directed by Jeremiah Tauamiti

HIFF Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award Presented by Hawai‘i an Airlines
37 SECONDS directed by Hikari

HIFF Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Honorable Mentions:
HEARTS AND BONES directed by Ben Lawrence.

NETPAC Winner: ANOTHER CHILD by Yoon-Seok Kim

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