During the fall festival HIFF invites filmmakers to visit schools to share the craft of filmmaking with young students first-hand. Below is a list of guest filmmakers who visited classrooms in 2019. For any questions, or to enquire about HIFF40 classroom opportunities, please email Education Coordinator, Jen May Pastores, jenmay@hiff.org


Since graduating from the University of Hawaii in 2012, Alexander has worked in Honolulu as a freelance director creating narrative films, PSAs, and documentaries as co-creative director at the production company, Lumos Media. His documentary work for the Hawaii State Department of Health and other non-profits highlight some of our most compelling social issues, most notably in his work on the celebrated film Ike: Knowledge is Everywhere.

In 2017, his feature film directorial debut, GO FOR BROKE, premiered to critical acclaim at the Hawaii International Film Festival and would go on to screen at film festivals around the world. Alongside his ongoing film work, Alexander is a lecturer at the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaii.


Justyn Ah Chong Headshot

Born and raised on the island of Oʻahu, Justyn is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker seeking to share unique and culturally-rooted stories. Upon graduating from USCʻs School of Cinematic Arts, Justyn returned to Hawaiʻi where he began working as a full-time videographer and editor at ʻŌiwi Television Network – Hawaiʻiʻs first and only indigenous television station.  Through ʻŌiwiTV heʻs been blessed to travel the world, sailing with and documenting the Hōkūleʻaʻs Worldwide Voyage and has collaborated on several nationally aired documentaries, including the award-winning film MELE MURALS (2016).  

Most recently, Justyn directed and edited a short film titled DOWN ON THE SIDEWALK IN WAIKĪKĪ, which had its World Premiere at the Māoriland Film Festival in 2019, and continues to screen at festivals around the world. Justyn continues to share culturally inspired, place-based stories within the Hawaiian community and abroad through his production company, Olonā Media.


Gemma Cubero Del Barrio is a bilingual writer, producer, director, and teacher born and raised in Spain. She has a passion for non-fiction storytelling using multimedia.  Gemma has also served as a visiting professor at Windward Community College, and the University of Hawaii at Manoa and West Oahu. Gemma was nominated for the United States Artists Fellowship and awarded an Annenberg Fellowship to obtain her M.A. at the University of Southern California. 

Her latest feature film OTTOMATICAKE just celebrated its world premiere at the 2017 Hawaii International Film Festival, For the last two years Gemma has served as a documentary judge for the Emmy® Awards. She served as a NETPAC jury member at the 37th Hawaii International Film Festival and is now honored to serve as Board Member of the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) in the United States. For the last 7 years Gemma has been producing and directing the forthcoming feature length  documentary “Homecoming,” also about Pukapuka. For more information visit www.talcualfilms.com

Gerard Elmore

Gerard is a Emmy® Award nominated teacher / writer / editor / producer / director who has a range of experience varying from television production, film and TV commercials.   As a commercial director, he has directed a number of award-winning commercials, locally & nationally.  Winning multiple local Peles (ADDYs), Telly awards & a national Gold ADDY award.  As a teacher, he has lectured at the Academy for Creative Media, Manoa and West Oahu. 

Currently, Gerard is the lead producer at NMG network where he helps to produce, develop, execute and distribute content.  He also serves as the Executive Director for the ‘Ohina Short Film Showcase, that is designed to help local filmmakers promote, fund, screen and develop Hawaii based content.  

Amy Hill Headshot

Amy Hill’s television and film credits number over 170.  Many remember her from her memorable turns in FIFTY FIRST DATES, or Ice Cube’s neighbor in NEXT FRIDAY.  She is currently recurring on CRAZY EX GIRLFRIEND,  UNREAL,  PREACHER and MOM.  She’s a regular on Amazon Prime’s JUST ADD MAGIC.  As a voice actor, she’s been heard on numerous animated series or films, including Amazon Prime’s KUNG FU PANDA: PAWS OF AWESOMENESS, AMERICAN DAD, LILO AND STITCH (film and series), KING OF THE HILL and HBO’s HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

She’s also worked with regional theaters such as The Mark Taper Forum, Berkeley Rep, Seattle Rep, Actors Theater  of Louisville, The Public Theater in NYC and appeared on Broadway in Lincoln Center’s Twelfth Night that also aired on PBS’ Live from Lincoln Center. She is proud to consider East West Players as her L.A. Theater “home” where she has also performed, directed and taught.

She is the proud mother of a University of Hawaii, Manoa freshman and looks forward to her stint as “Kumu” on the 2nd season’s MAGNUM, P.I.


Ciara Lacy’s interest lies in crafting films that use strong characters and investigative journalism to challenge the creative and political status quo. She has created content for film and television, managed independent features, as well as coordinated product placement and clearances for various platforms. Her work has shown at festivals around the world as well as broadcast on networks including Netflix, PBS, ABC, and Al Jazeera. In the digital space, she has created content for notable outlets like the Guardian and the Atlantic Online. 

Ciara is honored to be the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow as well as part of the inaugural class of NATIVe Fellows at the European Film Market. She has also benefited from fellowships with the Sundance Institute and Time Warner Foundation, Firelight Media’s Documentary Lab, the Sundance Institute’s NativeLab, Tribeca All Access, The Princess Grace Foundation, The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, and the Independent Film Project (IFP). Ciara holds a BA in Psychology from Yale University and has given talks at academic institutions across the U.S. She continues to work on documentary content for broadcast and digital while also expanding her intimate style of filmmaking into the branded content and commercial spaces.


Anela Ling

Anela Ling is a filmmaker and artist born and raised on the island of Oahu. Since graduating from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Academy for Creative Media program, Anela has worked on a wide array of independent films at all levels of production responsibility including creative, logistical, and leadership. Being of Native Hawaiian descent, Anela’s goal is to write and share stories that reflect her deep appreciation for the culture and lifestyle found only in Hawai’i. 

Winning both the Judge’s Award and PIC Award at the 2018 ‘Ohina Fellowship Lab has granted her the rare opportunity to achieve this by being mentored by Showrunner/Writer, Dana Ledoux Miller (The Newsroom, Narcos.) With the support of her community and a passion to create personal and affecting films, Anela Ling works to broadcast stories in the hopes that viewers find even a little bit of understanding, truth, and comfort in them.   

Her most recent work was as lead Producer for Alexander Bocchieri’s dramatic short film, THE PIT WHERE WE WERE BORN, Production Designer on Alika Maikau’s and Jonah Okano’s Kaneohe-centric film MAUKA TO MAKAI (‘Ohina Fellowship award winner), as well as First Assistant Director on Jay Hubert’s thesis film, MR. SILVERMAN (2018). Anela’s commitment to nurturing the growing and diverse independent film community in Hawai’i has led to many collaborations with a wide network of peers. She works now as an upcoming Writer/Director on her own ‘Ohina Fellowship Lab Award winning film, MO’O.


Born, raised, and still residing on the island of O’ahu, Alika Maikau has narrowed his focus to simply this – tell stories about the Hawai’i diaspora as authentically as possible. Suffering a car accident after graduating the University Of Hawai’is film program in 2013, he took several years off to recover and reflect on what he wanted to do with his life. 

He eventually wrote and Co-Directed KEEP YOU FLOAT (2017) with his friend Jonah Okano. In 2017 it was accepted into the ‘Ohina Showcase, and Hawai’i International Film Festival, where it was nominated for Best Made In Hawai’i Short. Riding that momentum, he wrote and Co-Directed another short in the beginning of 2018 entitled MAUKA TO MAKAI, a film developed under the mentorship of Joe Robert Cole (Black Panther, The People v O.J. Simpson). This mentorship was earned through the ‘Ohina Filmmakers Lab, in which Joe hand-picked the script to oversee through completion. 

Alika latest short film, MOLOKA’I BOUND won the first prize in the ‘Made in Hawaii’ category at HIFF 39.


Anne Misawa grew up in Hawaii. Having graduated from University of Southern California’s Graduate Film and Television Program, Anne Misawa has worked internationally in various aspects of film production. Her primary work is as a Director and as a Cinematographer.

Directorial credits include:
WAKING MELE, (Sundance Film Festival, 2000), and EDEN’S CURVE (Emerging Film Best Feature Award, NCGLFF, 2003). Anne teaches cinematic production at the Academy for Creative Media, University of Hawai’i where she produced & directed the feature length documentary, STATE OF ALOHA (2009), which has garnered various awards.

Her work as cinematographer include many award-winning films — MARGARITA, WITH A STRAW (2014), JACK & DIANE (2012), TREELESS MOUNTAIN (2008), TIME OUT (2004), SALT (2003), and LIV (1998).


ʻĀina Paikai is a Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) filmmaker determined to tell the stories of his homeland.  Along with graduating from UH Mānoa’s Academy for Creative Media, he found a long career at ʻŌiwiTV, starting as an intern and eventually becoming the senior staff photographer.  As part of ʻŌiwiTV, he has worked on several award winning nationally televised documentaries including the Nā Loea Series (2014), Mele Murals (2016), and Moananuiākea: One Ocean, One People, One Canoe (2018).  His wife, Annemarie, and two young children support his latest journey into full-time fatherhood and part-time production, as a freelance media maker and owner of Kamaʻāina Creations, LLC.   


Brian is a screenwriter, creative director and the Education Director of the ‘Ohina Filmmakers Lab. Brian’s first script, “The Rogues Gallery” became the cult film OPERATION: ENDGAME (2010) starring Ellen Barkin, Zach Galifianakis and Maggie Q. He also wrote the short, MAISA THE CHAMORU GIRL WHO SAVES GUAHAN, Guam’s first animated Chamorro language film, which screened at HIFF and won Best Short Film at the Pasifika Film Fest.

Brian has developed scripts for production companies at Fox and Sony, has taught screenwriting at the University of Hawai‘i’s Pacific New Media Program, and is a two-time fellow of Creative Lab Hawai‘i. As Education Director of the ‘Ohina Filmmakers Lab he has helped nurture young, local filmmakers who have gone on to create award-winning films. Brian is also a creative director and commercial director whose writing has been awarded at the American Advertising Awards, Pele Awards and the Telly Awards.