Executive Director Beckie Stocchetti’s Top 10 Films to watch with the HIFF40 10-Pack

By HIFF News | November 19, 2020

For the next couple of days, we are going to be sharing HIFF staffers TOP 10 FILMS TO WATCH. With varying personal tastes, these lists are a great starting off point for the uninitiated who want to dive in and purchase our newly announced HIFF40 10-PACK, a discounted ticket package of 10-online vouchers for only $40! Get 10 movies for yourself or others to share. Think of this as our Black Friday sale, but we’re pushing it up one week early and extending it for the final 10 days of HIFF40!

In this blog post, HIFF Executive Director Beckie Stocchetti lists her HIFF40 Top 10 and explains why you should view her top choices:

MADE IN HAWAI‘I SHORTS
I love short films, and these plethora of shorts give a glimpse into a variety of aspects of life in Hawai’i. From fantastic scenarios to documentaries, from top of mind social issues to fun musings, from character studies to place-making, these films all showcase the richness of culture here in the islands far beyond what is normally represented in depictions of Hawai’i. They are all well worth watching.

THE PAPER TIGERS
Fun and fearless, this group of aged Kung Fu prodigies are sure to warm anyone’s heart. For fans of COBRA KAI and Bruce Lee alike, this film is a joy to watch. Can we overcome all our inadequacies to live a meaningful life? Humor abounds in this one, where you really are rooting for the underdogs, and director Bao Tran is one to watch.

LUNANA: A YAK IN THE CLASSROOM
I have a soft spot for Neo-realism and this blend of real villagers and stunning cinematography is destined to capture your heart. A journey of self awareness where teacher becomes student, and learning to appreciate what is meaningful in life is a sure-bet for 2020.

THE SWORDSMAN
A classic Korean throwback to period action drama – who doesn’t love a film like this? This beautiful work is based on actual historical events of early 17th century Korea, most suitable for those looking for true heroes in a corrupt, lawless world (so, all of us).

THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS
All of the films in HIFF’s Panorama section are worth your time, but this quasi-experimental blend of almost Brechtian-like cinematography and nuanced character acting is bound to resonate with anyone who has spent this years’ quarantine trying to keep any relationship together. Only available on November 20 between 7pm-11pm HST

DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL
This film will make you feel tense and uncomfortable, which is why it’s on my top ten list. An inside look into the saga of the first NYPD officer to be charged with manslaughter and the raging debate as two important American communities struggle for fair representation through the justice system. Director Ursula Liang strikes a remarkable balance and authenticity of views from various perspectives that will make you question your own views on what it means to have justice today.

GONE WITH THE LIGHT
An ensemble of characters whose lives are upended by the appearance of a mysterious light which causes some people to disappear without a trace. An interesting film that combines sci-fi and mystery, this one requires the viewer to pay a lot of attention to nuance and can be seen as a fascinating take on how filmmakers within the government-censored industry in China are creating open-ended cinematic scenarios that can be interpreted in various ways.

LOIMATA, THE SWEETEST TEARS
A gorgeous, tender, and harrowing look on one family’s journey from New Zealand to their parent’s birthplace in Samoa for the purpose of healing their past traumas and freeing themselves from shame. This documentary pays a stirring tribute to the woman who revived voyaging for younger generations, as well as those who carry the light for healing.

BE WATER + 80th BIRTHDAY PANEL W/ SPECIAL GUESTS
This documentary is more than just a film about Bruce Lee and his martial arts prowess. It frames his life and legacy as a groundbreaking Asian American and civil rights activist, challenging the establishment of old school Hollywood during the turbulent ‘60s. This return engagement, which world premiered at Sundance and was broadcast on ESPN earlier this summer, is being shown with a live panel of true luminaries on November 27, which would have been Bruce Lee’s 80th birthday. Screening on November 27th.

WATER LIKE FIRE
Mitchel Viernes’s beautiful and eloquent coming-of-age story of addiction, tragedy and eventual redemption showcases the many talents in Hawai‘i who are making indie features on their own terms. Aside from it being a treat to see so many Honolulu locations on the screen, the performances are great, and the story is especially moving about characters who seek a sense of family by blood or adoptive.

Extra Bonus:

HIFF TALK STORY SESSIONS
My favorite part of HIFF is connecting filmmakers from all over the world with our global audience. Reimagined in 2020, HIFF has had the honor of “talking story” with nearly 40 filmmakers, actors, and HIFF40 honorees–Dave Filoni, Steven Yeun, Keala Settle, Rachel Brosnahan, Jason Scott Lee and Lana Condor–on their insights, lives, careers, and passions. You definitely won’t have the opportunity to view these anywhere else! Plus, they’re all free and available to view now on the HIFF Facebook page.