*Check back this summer when the 2024-25 theme will be announced!

For the 2023-24 school year, we invited middle school and high school students to create a short film (documentary or narrative) that tells an inspiring story of youth leading the way in community or civic engagement for this year’s contest theme of:”Hawai’i’s Youth Leading By Example.” 


  1. Attend an optional two-part series workshops on September 30 (virtual) and October 7 (in-person) by signing-up at: tinyurl.com/HIFFDKII43
  2. All students must register and submit their film at: https://filmfreeway.com/HIFFOpioFest (Choose Future Filmmakers)
  3. Ensure the film’s story displays young people in Hawai’i leading by example
  4. The short film must be at least 1 minute long and no longer than 4 minutes 
  5. Students may use a smartphone, tablet, or digital camera to make their film. Animated films are welcomed. Have fun and get creative!
  6. Deadline is January 31, 2024. Finalists will be notified in February 2024.
  7. For any questions, please email [email protected]
Films selected will be screened at HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest taking place April 5-7, 2024 at Consolidated Theatres Kahala.  Students will also be invited to attend a private awards ceremony with other finalists and will have an opportunity to meet and learn from a celebrity youth ambassador. Past ambassadors include actress Auli’i Cravalho, director Destin Daniel Cretton, and actors Harry Shum, Jr. and Jacob Batalon. The Daniel K. Inouye Institute will also be awarding the top winners with a prize.

student workshops

In the fall of 2022, we offered a two-part workshop series, at no costs to students, that supported the preparation of the short films for the Future Filmmakers short film contest.


So, you kind of have an idea for your film. Now what? In this 90-minute online workshop instructed by producer, Philip Chung, we'll explore general tips and methods of producing a story that is original and engaging, and also fully embraces this year's Future Filmmakers theme. Part of the workshop will focus on idea development and the second half will focus on workshopping selected ideas together as a group.

Philip W. Chung is a writer/producer and creative director of YOMYOMF, the Asian American-centric production company founded by FAST & FURIOUS director Justin Lin. He has written, developed, and/or produced projects for Netflix, NBC Universal/Comcast, Warner Bros, YouTube, Google, eOne, IFC Channel, Legendary Pictures, Buzzfeed Studios, and others.

SATURDAY, October 7 | 3:30PM-5:30pm | @ box jelly warD

Join HIFF and other young filmmakers as we learn practical filmmaking techniques for modern-day documentary production with local filmmaker, Alex Bocchieri, at an in-person workshop designed to elevate your short film entry to the Future Filmmakers contest. The class is limited, so sign-up soon!​

Alex Bocchieri is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker who lives and works in Honolulu. After graduating from the University of Hawai‘i, Alex turned his passion for storytelling toward creating documentaries, leading to his work on the celebrated film, IKE: KNOWLEDGE IS EVERYWHERE. From there he told stories of Hawai‘i heroes when he directed the independent feature film, GO FOR BROKE, a groundbreaking Hawai‘i-produced war drama that went on to screen at festivals around the world. Since then he has written and directed award-winning short films, while working with nonprofits to document individuals and institutions that are trying to make this world a better place. In 2022, Alex was selected to be a part of the Disney Launchpad Program, where he directed a film that will be released on Disney+ later this year.

Quote that inspired the theme

"We have been shaped by the history, culture and events of this region. I have long believed that Hawai'i – multicultural and tolerant – is what the world should always strive to be.”

Senator Daniel K Inouye

reflection questions for students

Questions students reflected on when preparing their film. 

  • What lessons have inspired you to be a leader? How do those lessons shape your decisions in life?
  • Do you believe that Hawai’i’ can be an example to the world? In what ways can the world learn from Hawai’i?
  • What does the “spirit of aloha” mean to you? Is it important for leaders to embody aloha? Why?
Photo: Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Irene Hirano Inouye with former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama at the 2011 Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation


As HIFF partners with organizations like the Daniel K. Inouye Institute (DKII), we work to build a better future with students who have a powerful voice to reimagine a new world.

The Daniel K. Inouye Institute was established in 2013 to preserve Senator Inouye’s papers and tell his life story; support STEM education, civics learning and international educational-cultural exchanges; and establish a repository of the Asian American/Pacific experience.

This contest is also supported by the YOMYOMF Foundation, which supports Asian Pacific American artists as well as artists from other traditionally underrepresented communities who wish to pursue careers in film, TV, theater and new media.

The mission of the Ted Stevens Foundation is to recognize and honor the Senator’s career in public service, and to apply his legacy of bipartisanship and collaboration through outreach and education.  In this spirit, the Foundation works with organizations to inspire the next generation of leaders in critical thinking, community advocacy, and respect for cultural and civic engagement.

Perseverance Theatre is Alaska’s largest professional theatre, and a non-profit organization serving over 21,000 artists, students, and audiences annually. PT’s mission is to create professional theatre by and for Alaskans, with a focus on community engagement, cross-cultural and cross-racial collaboration, professional rigor, and regional/national voice.