HIFF42 Film Highlights by Women Directors

48% of HIFF42’s films are directed or co-directed by women filmmakers. Although a promising percentage for gender parity in this year’s festival program and definitely an upward trend, but the struggle continues. With local organizations like Hawai‘i Women In Filmmaking (HWF) and producers like Aotearoa-based Kerry Warkia and her all-Pasifika women director feature projects, such entities and individuals are providing opportunities and carving out space for gender representation, especially from communities of color. In addition, we have several features, all directed by women, chronicling the fight for female body autonomy and a dramatization of the Harvey Weinstein investigation that sparked the #MeToo movement.

The fine folks at HWF have graciously compiled a comprehensive list called FILMS BY WĀHINE @HIFF42.  In the meantime, here are some HIFF programmer highlights that you should add to your HIFF42 viewing schedule:

SHE SAID (USA, 2022, 135 min, Dir: Maria Schrader) A testament to the power of investigative journalism, SHE SAID details the journey of reporters and editors engaged in the unrelenting pursuit of the truth and highlights the courage of survivors and witnesses who chose to come forward to stop a serial predator in his tracks. Together, their commitment and fortitude sparked a national conversation, helped propel the #MeToo movement, and fueled a reckoning of the system that had enabled him. November 13, 7:30pm Consolidated Kahala

KĀINGA (Aotearoa/New Zealand, 2022, 85 min, Dir: Michelle Ang, Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, HASH, Nahyeon Lee, Angeline Loo, Asuka Sylvie, Yamin Tun, Julie Zhu) KĀINGA navigates the thorny terrain of home in Aotearoa New Zealand from the perspectives of 11 Pan-Asian women. Writers and directors from Māori-Chinese Aotearoa, China, Philippines, India, Iran, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar and Tamil Eelam, explore the historical connection to tangata whenua, feelings of isolation, community support in lieu of family, home precarity, excitement about making home, longing to be “back home”, being othered at home, and finally claiming home. November 5, 7:00pm / November 7, 3:45pm Consolidated Kahala

WOMEN TALKING (USA, 2022, 104 min, Dir: Sarah Polley) Oscar-nominated writer-director Sarah Polley’s fearless adaptation of Miriam Toews’ acclaimed novel grants us access to a tight-knit, cloistered religious colony in which women struggle to recover from an epidemic of abuse. Featuring riveting, emotionally complex performances from a stunning ensemble that includes Oscar nominees Rooney Mara and Jessie Buckley and Oscar winner Frances McDormand, WOMEN TALKING is a drama of harrowing revelations, fraught alliances, and the search for grace. November 6, 12:00pm / November 10, 8:15pm Consolidated Kahala

THE FIVE DEVILS (France, 2022, 96 min, Dir: Léa Mysius) Vicky, a strange and solitary little girl, has a magical gift: she can reproduce any scent she likes, and collects them in a series of carefully labeled jars. She has secretly captured the scent of Joanne, her mother for whom she nurtures a wild, excessive love. When her father’s sister Julia bursts into their life, Vicky reproduces her smell and is transported into dark and archaic memories which lead her to uncover the secrets of her village, her family and her own existence. November 8, 7:45pm Consolidated Kahala

LEONOR WILL NEVER DIE (Philippines, 2022, 99 min, Dir: Martika Ramirez Escobar) Leonor Reyes was once a major player in the Filipino film industry after creating a string of successful action films, but now her household struggles to pay the bills. When she reads an advertisement looking for screenplays, Leonor begins tinkering with an unfinished script. While her imagination provides some escape from reality, she goes all-in after an accident involving a television knocks her out, sends her into a coma, and transports her inside the incomplete movie. November 8, 7:30pm / November 11, 3:00pm Consolidated Kahala

HOMMAGE (South Korea, 2021, 108 min, Dir: Shin Su-won) Ji-wan is a filmmaker at odds with mid-life from a flat marriage to a career that is beyond stuck. Finally offered a job that involves restoring a 1960s film directed by the first known female Korean director, she embarks on a journey of discovery gleaning life lessons not only from those who came before her, but, unexpectedly, from her college-aged would-be poet son. Director Shin Su-won weaves humor with pathos in this exploration of what it means to be a woman in this world. November 3-27 Online

FINDING HER BEAT (Japan, USA, 2022, 89 min, Dir: Dawn Mikkelson, Keri Pickett) For thousands of years women have been locked out of Taiko drumming. Not anymore. In the dead of a Minnesota winter, Asian drumming divas smash gender roles and redefine power on their own terms. FINDING HER BEAT dives into the rhythms and struggles that lead to an electrifying historic performance that changes everything. November 11, 7:00pm Doris Duke Theatre / November 14-27 Online

LIQUOR STORE DREAMS (USA, 2022, 85 min, Dir: So Yun Um) Tracing from the ‘92 LA Uprisings to the current day BLM movement, LIQUOR STORE DREAMS is an intimate portrait of two Korean American children of liquor store owners who set out to bridge generational divides with their immigrant parents in Los Angeles. Director So Yun Um’s thoughtful voice offers a unique window on a new generation’s efforts to respect their parents’ sacrifices while remaining true to their own aspirations and contributing to a vibrant, evolving community. November 4, 5:45pm / November 8, 3:15pm Consolidated Kahala

BATTLEGROUND (USA, 2022, 104 min, Dir: Cynthia Lowen) BATTLEGROUND is an urgently timely window into the intersection of abortion and politics in America, following three women who lead formidable anti-abortion organizations to witness the enormous influence they wield. As the nation faces the end of Roe v Wade, the film also depicts those on the front lines of the fierce fight to maintain access. November 12, 3:00pm Consolidated Kahala / November 14-17 Online

OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL (USA, 2022, 108 min, Dir: Ellie Foumbi)
OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL is a riveting psychological thriller from writer/director Ellie Foumbi that follows Marie (Babetida Sadjo), an African refugee who has found a pleasant life for herself in a small mountain town, nestled in southern france. Her idyllic yet humble existence is thrown into turmoil, however, when a charismatic priest (Souleymane Sy Savane) comes to town – a man she recognizes from the horrors of her past. November 12, 7:30pm / November 13, 4:30pm Consolidated Kahala

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