HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest Student Showcase Honorees & Jury Award Winners

The inaugural HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest (April 5-7) is an exciting three-day event for all ages that celebrates student films and spotlights the diverse voices of emerging young filmmakers across Hawai’i.

‘Ōpio Fest, HIFF’s inaugural youth film festival, kicked off on Friday, April 5th, 2024 with an opening night party at a private event held at Treehouse Coworking. The festival also announced its jury award winners and honorees for the Student Showcase.

Selected for HIFF’s K-12 Student Showcase category were the best student films made by high school students or younger from across Hawai’i. The featured films included micro-movies, narratives, documentaries, animations, and public service announcements. Two top awards were given: the Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Award and the Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Junior Award. Additionally, the honoree awards recognized Best Screenplay, Best Visual Effects, and Slice of Life.

The films selected to be featured in this category were nominated with the help of the HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest Student Advisory Committee. The awarded films were adjudicated by a select jury that included Director Ciara Lacy, filmmaker and HIFF alumna, as well as Justin Gerald Ocampo, recipient of HIFF43’s BMW DRIVEN STUDENT FILMMAKER AWARD.

Ciara Lacy, 'Ōpio Fest Juror
Justin Gerald Ocampo, 'Ōpio Fest Juror


The HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest honorary awards celebrated the outstanding talents and efforts of student filmmakers for screenwriting, visual effects, and capturing authentic slices of life in the Student Showcase category:


The 2024 HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest Best Screenplay Winner is YOUNG AGAIN, directed by Kailey Holbrook of Mid-Pacific Institute.


Student filmmaker Kailey Holbrook won the Best Screenplay Award for YOUNG AGAIN


The 2024 HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest Best Visual Effects Winner is FIGHT SCREEN, directed by Andrew Lohr and Gino Caruso of Hawaii Baptist Academy.


The 2024 HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest Slice of Life Winner is U GET WHAT U GIVE, directed by Kailana Williams of H.P. Baldwin High School in Maui.


U GET WHAT U GIVE student filmmakers won the Slice of Life Award

For these honorary awards, the jury stated: “Each of these films was exemplary in its own right, particularly shining in a specific facet of storytelling. From bombastic visual effects to nuanced, character-driven plots and visceral performances, the standout features of these three films speak to the rise of an exciting generation of young creatives.”


Honoring Hawai’i’s youngest and most talented filmmakers, the Best ‘Ōpio Fest Student Film Junior Award celebrates an exceptional film created by middle school students or younger. This special recognition highlights outstanding creativity, storytelling, and technical skill at a remarkably young age.

The 2024 Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Junior Award is RECESS GHOST, directed by Kira Root of American Renaissance Academy.

The jury stated: “Impressive work both on the page and on set! A well-crafted storyline executed like a pro, with a super fun cliffhanger! Suspense-filled musical choices, clever editing, and creative production design work together cohesively to endear audiences to this tale of mystery. There was also very subtle “punny” humor in the dialogue (e.g. “hide & ‘ghost’ seek”).”

(L to R) Student filmmakers Kira Root and Ryan Marsden won Best 'Ōpio Student Film Junior Award for RECESS GHOST


As the highest honor for the Student Showcase at HIFF ‘Ōpio Fest, the Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Award celebrates the most exceptional narrative, documentary, or animated film by a high school student filmmaker from across Hawai’i. The winning film showcases remarkable storytelling, technical skill, and creative vision, recognizing the immense potential of its student filmmaker as an emerging voice of cinema in Hawai’i.

The 2024 Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Winner is CHRISTMAS LIGHTS, directed by Cameryn Koike of Mid-Pacific Institute.

The jury stated: “The detail and craft in this film speak not only to an impressive ability with animation but also to a keen understanding of genre, with humor and care built into every piece of the film. Additionally, this heartwarming tale deserves praise for its commitment to and mature handling of themes surrounding hard work, family bonds, and compassion for neighbors.”

Student filmmaker Cameryn Koike won Best 'Ōpio Student Film Award for CHRISTMAS LIGHTS


  • Best Screenplay Award: YOUNG AGAIN (Directed by Kailey Holbrook, Mid-Pacific Institute)
  • Best Visual Effects Award: FIGHT SCREEN (Directed by Andrew Lohr and Gino Caruso, Hawaii Baptist Academy)
  • Slice of Life Award: U GET WHAT U GIVE (Directed by Kailana Williams, H.P. Baldwin High School, Maui)


  • Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Junior Award: RECESS GHOST (Directed Kira Root, American Renaissance Academy)
  • Best ‘Ōpio Student Film Award: CHRISTMAS LIGHTS (Directed by Cameryn Koike, Mid-Pacific Institute)

If you missed the screening, you can watch the student films featured in the Student Showcase category here.

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