HIFF launches two festivals this spring-HIFF Spring Showcase (March 21-28) & HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest (April 5-7)


LAUNCHES TWO FESTIVALS THIS SPRING – 27th annual HIFF Spring Showcase (March 21-28) & INAUGURAL HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest (April 5-7)

HIFF Spring Showcase opens with New Zealand historical epic THE CONVERT directed by Lee Tamahori (ONCE WERE WARRIORS) & starring Guy Pearce;  Closes with North American Premiere of THE ROUNDUP: PUNISHMENT starring Korean superstar Don Lee (THE ETERNALS, TRAIN TO BUSAN)

HONOLULU, HI (February 29, 2024) – For the first time, the Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) will present two festivals this spring — The 27th annual HIFF Spring Showcase presented by Halekulani takes place from March 21st through 28th. The Spring Showcase is HIFF’s annual ‘mini-festival’, showcasing a hana hou (encore) of HIFF43 award-winning Made in Hawai‘i films, alongside 20 new feature films including several Hawai‘i premieres straight from Sundance. HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest, HIFFs inaugural youth film festival takes place April 5th through 7th. HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest is an exciting three-day family event dedicated to showcasing and celebrating short films made by Hawai’i’s young filmmakers, with enriching panels and activities for Hawaii’s youth! Both film festivals are exclusively at Consolidated Kahala Theaters. 

“We are thrilled to expand our programming this spring with the return of the HIFF Spring Showcase, showcasing the best of the year’s early cinema including films from Sundance and Berlinale, and announce ‘Ōpio Fest, HIFFs inaugural Youth Film Festival” said Beckie Stocchetti, HIFF Executive Director. “We are excited about every film in the Spring Showcase, and proud to open with Māori director Lee Tamahori’s return to Aotearoa New Zealand in THE CONVERT, a historical epic starring Guy Pearce and Te Kohe Tuhaka that serves as a fascinating perspective of western colonialism and a tremendous feat of reclamation—a Māori story told by a Māori director in the Māori language with a large Māori cast.” 

Stocchetti continues in regards to Spring Showcase’s Closing Night Film: “Last fall, we had the great pleasure of honoring Korean superstar Don Lee (TRAIN TO BUSAN, THE ROUNDUP, Marvel’s THE  ETERNALS) at HIFF43. Local fans were incredibly excited to meet him. Therefore, it is truly exciting to have the  North American premiere of his latest upcoming blockbuster, THE ROUNDUP: PUNISHMENT, the fourth installment of Don’s incredibly successful ‘Monster Cop’ film franchise. This is a major get, especially since the film just had its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival and HIFF is its next destination!”  


Announcing the launch of the inaugural edition of HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest, an exciting three-day event tailored to engage young audiences and families alike through a celebration of student films that spotlights the diverse voices of emerging young filmmakers across Hawai’i. 

Students can revel in exciting festivities throughout the weekend, starting with the ‘Ōpio Filmmakers Opening Night Party and a public theatrical screening of this year’s Student Showcase. Attendees can take part in panels and workshops including ‘Focusing The Lens: Inspiring Talks for ‘Ōpio Filmmakers’ or HIFFxACM Accelerator Work-In-Progress Lab, an afternoon of dynamic talks aimed to ignite ideas and inspire the next generation of filmmakers and content creators. Student films will also be featured at the HIFF Future Filmmakers Showcase and recognized at an Awards Ceremony, in partnership with the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, a program with work created around the theme “Hawai’i’s Youth Leading By Example.”  

The debut of ‘Ōpio Fest welcomes an exciting slate of special guests, including actress Auli’i Cravalho, known for her roles in MEAN GIRLS (2024) and Disney’s MOANA, alongside other celebrity youth ambassadors. 

‘Ōpio Fest takes place April 5-7, 2024 at Consolidated Theatres Kahala, is open to the public with free tickets available to ‘Ōpio’s student film showcases and workshop sessions. General admission tickets available for feature film presentations and free for students and teachers (with a valid school email domain). Showcases of students’ films are followed by in-person Q&As with the student filmmakers and the audience.

“For the past decade, HIFF has greatly invested in our HIFF Education programs including free film showcases, opportunities for content creation and contests, guest filmmaker campus visits across the State, student advisory committees and more, to develop and support Hawaii’s student filmmakers and nurture the next generation of cinematic storytellers and film fans,” said Beckie Stocchetti, HIFF’s Executive Director. “We are honored to bring this new Festival to audiences of all ages in Hawai’i.”

“Everyone has a story to tell, and through the imagination of young filmmakers, new narratives can take shape and transport audiences into realms of possibilities and realities. By encouraging Hawai’i’s youth to explore filmmaking as a medium for compelling storytelling and connection with the world, we not only amplify stories of their generation but embolden them to chart a course for a brighter tomorrow,” says Jen May Pastores, HIFF’s Education Director, who guides a group of student filmmakers who contribute to the planning of ‘Ōpio Fest.

The 2024 HIFF Spring Showcase presented by Halekulani takes place March 21-28, 2024 and HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest runs April 5-7, 2024. Both events will be held at Consolidated Kahala Theaters. The full lineup of films and panels for ‘Ōpio Fest will be announced on March 15 at www.hiff.org   

2024 HIFF Spring Showcase Full Lineup

26.2 TO LIFE
Hawaii Premiere
United States
Director: Christine Yoo
For the men who take their places at the starting line on a cool, sunny November morning, completing the marathon means more than joining an elite group of athletes. The bonds they forge on the track create a community that transcends prison politics and extends beyond the prison walls. 26.2 to Life is a story of transformation and second chances. The film offers a rare glimpse into a world out of bounds, as the inmates navigating life sentences seek redemption and freedom.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Marie Amachoukeli
Six year old Cléo loves her nanny Gloria more than anything. When Gloria must suddenly return to Cape Verde to care for her own children, Cléo makes her promise that they will see each other very soon. Gloria invites Cléo to her island and the two must make the most of their last summer together. Celebrated as one of the major discoveries of the Cannes Film Festival, writer/director Marie Amachoukeli’s remarkable ÀMA GLORIA is a vibrant drama.

Sneak Preview
United States, Hawaii
Director: Zoe Eisenberg
Alienated by friends and family for her lack of ambition, 29-year-old Misha finds a dangerous acceptance in a bright 18-year-old athlete who mistakes her for a fellow student. Shot entirely in Hilo, CHAPERONE from Hawai‘i Island-based filmmaker Zoe Eisenberg, recently had its world premiere at Slamdance, where it won the Grand Jury Breakouts Award.

Hawaii Premiere
United States
Director: Kelly O’Sullivan, Alex Thompson
GHOSTLIGHT, which had its world premiere at Sundance, profoundly examines a blue collar father’s grief through a scrappy community theatre production of Romeo & Juliet, when the drama onstage starts to mirror his own life. With two fantastic performances from Keith Kupferer and Dolly de Leon (TRIANGLE OF SADNESS), GHOST LIGHT is a tender but relatable and appealing story of the healing power of art.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Han Shuai
In an effort to escape her troubled past, Jin Xia (Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing), a Chinese woman, marries a Korean man named Lee Seung-hun in exchange for legal status in South Korea. One night, Xia encounters a green-haired girl enveloped in an enigmatic aura and becomes involved in the dangerous world of drug dealing. GREEN NIGHT is a captivating feminist thriller from director Han Shuai.

Return Engagement
United States, Hawaii
Director: Ty Santa (HŌKŪLE’A); Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, Daniel Sousa (AIKĀNE); Matt Yamashita (KALA)
In 2006, cultural anthropologist Wade Davis sailed with master navigator Nainoa Thompson to learn about the art of wayfinding. Fifteen years later the two explorers contemplate the mysteries of traditional navigation and a future inspired by the language of the navigator. HŌKŪLE’A: FINDING THE LANGUAGE OF THE NAVIGATOR won the HIFF43 Best Made in Hawai‘i Grand Jury Prize. Screens with two award winning shorts AIKĀNE (shortlisted for Oscar consideration) and KALA.

Hawaii Premiere
United States
Director: Chris Nash
Straight from its world premiere at Sundance, IN A VIOLENT NATURE is best described as an “ambient slasher”, the film follows the mute killer who targets a group of teenagers in the Ontario wilderness, with the events observed largely from the killer’s perspective. When a locket is removed from a collapsed fire tower in the woods that entombs the rotting corpse of Johnny, a vengeful spirit spurred on by a horrific 60-year old crime, his body is resurrected and becomes hellbent on retrieving it.

Hawaii Premiere
United States
Director: Annie Baker
In rural Western Massachusetts, 11-year-old Lacy spends the summer of 1991 at home, enthralled by her own imagination and the attention of her mother, Janet (Julianne Nicholson). As the months pass, three visitors enter their orbit, all captivated by Janet and her spellbinding nature. In her solitary moments, Lacy inhabits an inner world so extraordinarily detailed that it begins to seep into the outside world. The directorial feature debut of Pulitzer winning playwright Annie Baker, JANET PLANET has been hailed as one of the finest first films in the annals of the medium.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Atari Kadav
Richa, a successful dancer, is set up with a boy of her dreams, a hardworking shy doctor who loves simple home cooked food. But after her marriage she realizes she is just a minor cog in the hectic household routine of her new home. While she gives it her all in trying to impress her new family, she notices that it is never enough. She tries to break away to pursue her dreams, only to realize she is being pulled back into the house.

Hawaii Premiere
South Korea
Director: Kim Young-kyoon
PICNIC is a heartwarming South Korean film that tenderly unfurls the tale of two octogenarian friends, Kim Yeong-ok and Na Moon-hee, navigating the delicate dance of aging. Embarking on a journey from Seoul to Namhae, they face life’s final acts with dignity, friendship, and poignant memories. Released during the Korean Lunar New Year (Seollal), PICNIC has garnered rave reviews and strong box office standing.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Ryoma Kosasa
Wading through life, a series of wanderers and adventurers gather at a small guesthouse in Tokyo, where they explore their own paths and grow through new relationships and experiences. The youthful ensemble drama is centered around chance encounters and the beauty in life’s transitions. Full of insight into modern culture and connection, PUSH PAUSE is poignant, heartfelt and enlightening with depth and introspection.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Naomi Ogigami
In the wake of the 3/11 earthquake on a sunny evening, Yoriko’s husband walks out into the garden and disappears. Years later with her son grown and gone, she finds herself enmeshed in a water-worshiping cult. Living a life of austerity and solitude, she works in the grocery store by day and spends all of her money on blessed water. But when her estranged husband reappears with a cancer diagnosis, her seemingly peaceful existence is upturned.

Hawaii Premiere
South Korea
Director: Jason Yu
A happily married couple’s peaceful lives are disrupted by the sudden onset of disturbing nocturnal behavior from husband Hyun-su. As they strive to unravel the horrifying secret of the inexplicable and violent actions that occur during his sleep, the presence of their newborn baby makes the couple increasingly fearful and desperate. World premiering at Cannes, SLEEP is one of the final films from celebrated actor Lee Syun-kun, who tragically passed away a few months ago.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Pema Tseden
The unexpected incident of a snow leopard breaking into the sheep pen of a local herder and killing nine rams not only causes a stir in the family, but also attracts a TV crew to the village. Set in the high altitudes of the Tibetan Plateau, against stunning mountains and lakes, Pema Tseden’s final film SNOW LEOPARD, which won the Tokyo International Film Festival Grand Prize, is a call for empathy for animals and humans alike.

Hawaii Premiere
New Zealand
Director: Lee Tamahori
When a lay preacher (Guy Pearce) arrives at a British settlement in 1830s New Zealand, his violent past is drawn into question and his faith put to the test as he finds himself caught in the middle of a bloody war between Māori tribes. Famed Kiwi director Lee Tamahori (ONCE WERE WARRIORS, DIE ANOTHER DAY) returns to his native country in this sweeping historical epic exploring questions of faith, transformation, and the nature of violence.

Hawaii Premiere
Director: Masaya Takahashi
In the middle of one of the worst droughts on record, Shunsaku, a Waterworks Division employee, is tasked with shutting off the water to households with outstanding water bills. Shunsaku is disaffected, hated by those he visits, poor families who cannot afford basic necessities. One day while out on his rounds, he comes across two little girls whose mother appears largely absent. Towing the line between helping the girls and doing his job, Shunsaku’s stoic detachment begins to crack.

North American Premiere
South Korea
Director: Heo Myeong-haeng
During the investigations of a drug trafficking app, the Monster Cop Ma Seok-do (DonLee, HIFF 2023 Maverick Award Honoree) and his team discover a connection between the wanted app developer, who was killed in the Philippines, and a massive illegal online gambling organization. Meanwhile in the Philippines, Baek Chang-gi (Kim Moo-Yul), a former elite soldier, has been controlling the Korean online illegal gambling market, terrorizing it with kidnap, assault and murder. His partner, the IT genius CEO, Chang Dong-chul (Lee Dong-Hwi) plans an even larger scheme in Korea. To put an end to the escalating threat, Detective Ma expands the operation by proposing an unexpected alliance to Jang (Park Ji-hwan), and unfolds the biggest roundup mission to hunt down the criminals, collaborating with the cyber unit and Metro Investigations.

Hawaii Premiere
United States
Director: Josh Margolin
When 93-year-old Thelma Post (June Squibb) gets duped by a phone scammer pretending to be her grandson, she sets out on a treacherous quest across the city to reclaim what was taken from her. A story exploring aging, family and autonomy (and uniquely inspired by action movies like MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE) – Thelma is based on a real-life experience of writer/director Josh Margolin’s grandmother, and marks Squibb’s first leading film role of her 70+ year career. THELMA world premiered at Sundance and quickly became the talk of the Festival.

Hawaii Premiere
United States
Director: Daina O. Pusić
A mother (Julia Louis-Dreyfus, in a profoundly moving performance) and her teenage daughter (Lola Petticrew) must confront Death when it arrives in the form of an astonishing talking bird. From debut filmmaker Daina O. Pusić, TUESDAY is a heart-rending fairy tale about the echoes of loss and finding resilience in the unexpected. Louis-Dreyfus, best known for her comedic work, delves into a sphere of emotion that she’s never before explored on screen. Pusić swings for the fences in her daring debut that is reminiscent of fantastical realism seen in the best of Wim Wenders and Hayao Miyazaki.

Hawaii Premiere
New Zealand
Director: Paul Middleditch, Hamish Bennett
UPROAR is set in 1981, when the arrival of the South African rugby team sets off nationwide protests against apartheid and racism. Josh Waaka (breakout star Julian Dennison from THE HUNT OF THE WILDERPEOPLE), a 17-year-old of mixed race who has been a passive bystander all his life, is suddenly forced to stand up for himself, his whānau, and his future. Co-starring Rhys Darby and Minnie Driver, UPROAR is a triumph of Aotearoa New Zealand cinema.

Hawaii Premiere
United Kingdom
Director: Thea Sharrock
Based on a stranger than fiction true story, WICKED LITTLE LETTERS follows two neighbors: deeply conservative local Edith Swan (Olivia Colman) and rowdy Irish migrant Rose Gooding (Jessie Buckley). When Edith and fellow residents begin to receive wicked letters full of unintentionally hilarious profanities, foul-mouthed Rose is charged with the crime. The anonymous letters prompt a national uproar, and a trial ensues. However, as the town’s women begin to investigate the crime themselves, they suspect Rose may not be the culprit after all.

For more information about the festival schedule, membership, ticket purchases and more, visit www.HIFF.org



About Hawai‘i International Film Festival presented by Halekulani (HIFF)
Established in 1981, the Hawai‘i International Film Festival is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of cultural exchange and media in the Pacific Rim. HIFF is a premier international film organization that has won the praise of international filmmakers, scholars, educators, governments, programmers and film industry leaders across the globe. HIFF’s Festival programming has two mandates: to be a festival of record for emerging films and talent from Asia, the Pacific, and North America and to present the top festival films from around the world, annually screening films from over 45 countries across Hawai’i. HIFF’s Industry and Education programs provide career development, network building, content creation opportunities and investment, and masterclasses and panels in the fields of film, music, virtual reality, and new media entertainment. These programs reflect HIFF’s commitment to supporting and elevating innovative creative content and creators from the Asia Pacific Rim and as the leader in establishing a pipeline of creative industry talent in Hawai‘i. HIFF is an Academy Award®-qualifying Festival in both its Best International Short Film and Best Made-In-Hawaii Short FIlm award categories. For more information, visit www.HIFF.org

HIFF’s key presenting sponsor is Halekulani. Major sponsors include: Hawaiian Airlines, Star Advertiser, Middle Management, and The Asian American Foundation.


What: 27th Annual HIFF Spring Showcase presented by Halekulani
When: March 21-28, 2024

What: 1st Annual HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest
When: April 5-7, 2024

Exclusive venue: Consolidated Kahala Theaters

Festival Passes and individual ticket purchases available online at hiff.org.

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