HIFF43 Opening Night to highlight Taika Waititi’s NEXT GOAL WINS & Hayao Miyazaki’s THE BOY AND THE HERON for Closing Night; Co-Centerpieces are NYAD from FREE SOLO directors and South Korean disaster epic CONCRETE UTOPIA starring Lee Byung-hun & Park Seo-joon.
HIFF43 reveals full lineup of feature film selections and programming
HIFF43 presented by Halekulani begins October 12-22 on O’ahu, October 26-29 on Maui and Kaua’i, October 30-November 1 on Lana’i & November 2-5 on Big Island of Hawai’i.
This year’s program includes over 186 film selections (91 features & 95 shorts) from across the globe. The lineup is comprised of feature film favorites from major festivals throughout the year (from Sundance to Cannes to Toronto), several world and international premieres of new works primarily from the Asia-Pacific, and special forums dedicated to spark discourse on Environmental films, Pasifika (Pacific Islander), Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian), and Indigenous experiences through the intersection of creative content and culture, reflecting Hawai‘i as a gathering place and a bridge for cultural exchange.
Passes are available for advanced purchase here. Individual tickets will go on sale on September 25th.
HIFF43 Program Highlights:
- Opening Night Gala includes the Hawai’i premiere of Oscar® winner Taika Waititi’s latest comedy NEXT GOAL WINS, which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. Additionally, a separate FREE Opening Night Film is the world premiere of UNCLE BULLY’S SURF SKOOL, directed by Maui-resident Leah Warshawski. Cast and crew from Maui will be on O’ahu for an extended after-film discussion with audiences.
- Centerpiece Night Galas will showcase two international films: NYAD, the first narrative feature from Oscar® winning documentary filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin (FREE SOLO), and CONCRETE UTOPIA, a disaster epic directed by Tae-hwa Eom.
- Closing Night Gala is Japanese auteur Hayao Mayazaki’s THE BOY AND THE HERON, Miyazaki’s highly anticipated first film in 10 years.
- Special sections include GREEN SCREEN, EAT.DRINK.FILM, FILM FOR THOUGHT, HIFF EXTREME, ASIAN|AMERICAN, INDIGENOUS LENS, SOUTHEAST ASIAN + PACIFIC SHOWCASE, NEW AMERICAN PERSPECTIVES, spotlights on KOREA, JAPAN, HONG KONG, CHINA, TAIWAN and PANORAMA, which presents Hawai’i premieres of festival favorites from major film festivals like Sundance, SXSW, Cannes & Toronto.
- Nominated PASIFIKA films include: MOTU HAKA: THE FIGHT OF THE MARQUESAS ISLANDS (dir: Merienne Raynald); THE NEW BOY (dir: Warwick Thornton); NO MĀORI ALLOWED (dir: Corinna Hunziker); ORPA (dir: Theo Rumansara); STILL WE RISE (dir: John Harvey); PACIFIC MOTHER (dir: Katherine McRae).
- Nominated MADE IN HAWAI’I feature films include: HŌKŪLEʻA: FINDING THE LANGUAGE OF THE NAVIGATOR (dir: Ty Sanga); HOMETOWN LEGENDS (dir: Kolby Akamu Moser, Nainoa Langer); REMOVED BY FORCE: THE EVICTION OF HAWAI‘I’S JAPANESE AMERICANS DURING WWII (dir: Ryan Kawamoto); UNCLE BULLY’S SURF SKOOL (dir: Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday).
- Nominated KAU KA HŌKŪ films include: ALL EARS (dir: Liu Jiayin); ASOG (dir: Seán Devlin); BAD PRESS (dir: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler); BE WITH ME (dir: Hwarng Wern-ying); MUSTACHE (dir: Imran J. Khan); RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE (dir: Katja Esson); TIGER STRIPES (dir: Amanda Nell Eu); WHICH COLOUR? (dir: Shahrukhkhan Chavada).
- HIFF43’s HIFILM Industry Hub is a track of career development programs, masterclasses, and workshops. These events take place throughout the Festival at Entrepreneurs Sandbox and UH West O‘ahu, and are open to HIFF Industry Passholders.
- Additional highlights include the World Premiere of ALBERT PYUN – KING OF CULT MOVIES (dir: Lisa D’Apolito); EVIL DOES NOT EXIST (dir: Ryûsuke Hamaguchi; INSIDE THE YELLOW COCOON SHELL (dir: Thien An Pham; THE TASTE OF THINGS (dir: Tran Anh Hung).
HIFF43 FEATURE FILM LINEUP:
Directed by Kazuyoshi Kumakiri (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Kawamura leads a picture-perfect life. He’s handsome, well-liked, has a great job, and is about to marry the CEO’s daughter. On his way home from a surprise party the night before his wedding, he falls into a desolate manhole, with no easy way out. Desperate to escape he uses his only reliable tool, a smartphone, to locate himself. Can the groom get out of the hole intact and get married happily ever after? As this fantastical edge-of-your-seat thriller unfolds, all is not as it seems…
Directed by Haofeng Xu, Junfeng Xu (China) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on China
1920s Tianjin, northern China. The son of a martial arts master and his most talented apprentice fight to take over a prominent martial arts academy. But rather than obey the rule of settling disputes behind closed doors, they take their fight to the street. Esteemed screenwriter XU Haofeng (Wong Kar Wai’s THE GRANDMASTER) co-directs with his brother XU Junfeng, and continues to mine his favorite era, the early 20th century, when martial arts (and Asia) was in a transitional period.
Directed by Emily Hong (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Green Screen
Filmmaker Emily Hong tells the story of indigenous punk rock pastors in Myanmar who team up with women activists to protect a sacred river from a Chinese-built megadam. From Aung San Suu Kyi’s broken election promises to a military coup threatening their homeland, activists and musicians fight back the best way they know how–through protest, prayer, and karaoke music videos.
Directed by Sing J. Lee (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | New American Perspectives
Long, a Vietnamese driver in California answers a late-night call for a ride. Already in his pajamas, he reluctantly accepts, picking up a man, Tây (Dustin Nguyen), and his two companions. But the men, escaped convicts, take Long hostage at gunpoint. First-time filmmaker and Sundance Award Winner Sing J. Lee sets an unnerving tone, with intensity punctuated by humor and warmth. Less a crime film, and more a stirring portrait of an unexpected relationship, THE ACCIDENTAL GETAWAY DRIVER is based on a true story.
Directed by Lowell Ing (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Asian-American
Alan Chong Lau worked in produce for more than 30 years at Uwajimaya Store in Seattle WA, International District before he retired. When he wasn’t trimming bok choy or culling over ripe bitter melon, he wrote poetry, painted and is currently still the Arts columnist for The International Examiner, a biweekly community newspaper. Writer of Blues and Greens a produce workers journal (2000 University of Hawai‘i Press), he is currently represented by Art Xchange.
Directed by Lisa D’Apolito (USA) – World Premiere | Documentaries
Throughout cult director Albert Pyun’s incredible 40-year career, his bizarre, fantastical films were often criticized and parodied; but even now, the worlds he brought to life continue to captivate fans worldwide. Along with Interviews and archival footage, the film showcases never-before-seen clips from Albert’s unfinished film and his last days as a kama‘aina coming home to be honored at the 2021 HIFF. This world premiere presentation will be part of a double bill with Pyun classic NEMESIS (1992), partly shot on the Big Island.
Directed by Liu Jiayin (China) – USA Premiere | Spotlight on China
Wen Shan (Hu Ge) is a screenwriter struggling to make a living in Beijing. By chance, he begins to write eulogies for a living. As he restores the lives of others, he finds his own place in the city and finally realizes that ordinary people can take center stage too. From his perpetual ennui, he soon finds meaning in his own life trajectory. Director Liu Jiayin, who is best known for her hybrid documentaries, won Best Director at Shanghai International Film Festival for ALL EARS.
Directed by Justine Triet (France) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
For the past year, Sandra, her husband Samuel, and their son Daniel have lived a secluded life in a remote town in the French Alps. When Samuel is found dead in the snow below their chalet, the police question whether he was murdered or committed suicide. Samuel’s suspicious death is presumed murder, and Sandra becomes the main suspect. What follows is not just an investigation into the circumstances of Samuel’s death but an unsettling psychological journey into the depths of Sandra and Samuel’s conflicted relationship.
Directed by Wim Wenders (Germany) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
Wim Wenders creates a portrait of Anselm Kiefer, one of the most innovative artists of our time. Shot in 3D and 6K-resolution, the film presents a cinematic experience of the artist’s work which explores human existence and the cyclical nature of history, inspired by literature, poetry, philosophy, science, mythology and religion. Wenders traces Kiefer’s path from his native Germany to his current home in France, connecting the stages of his life to the essential places of his career that spans more than five decades.
Directed by Seán Devlin (Philippines) – Hawai’i Premiere | Southeast Asian Showcase
ASOG is a tragicomic road film that follows a non-binary Filipino comedian pursuing their dream of becoming a pageant queen. By day REY teaches high school students and by night they perform at bars as a proudly gay comedian named JAYA. En route to a pageant on a neighboring island Jaya encounters a series of people living on the frontlines of the climate crisis. 100% of the cast members are Filipinos who survived Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest storm ever recorded at landfall.
Directed by Ben Braun, Chiaki Yanagimoto – Hawai’i Premiere | New American Perspectives
In 1984, eccentric guru Shoko Asahara founded a yoga school in Japan’s capital. Ten years later, the school had morphed into the Aum Shinrikyo doomsday cult. The charismatic, half-blind Asahara proclaimed himself Buddha’s successor, and with him as a spiritual guide to his thousands of followers, the group planned a 1995 terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway that left 14 dead and 6,000 injured. How did it come to this? Director duo Yanagimoto and Braun unravel the incredible story in great detail.
Directed by Bruce Chiu (Taiwan) – World Premiere | Spotlight on Taiwan
Feng, raised in the countryside, leaves her grandmother and younger brother to pursue a singing career in Taipei but gets trafficked to Japan as a prostitute. Upon her return, she finds her grandmother suffering from dementia. Consumed by guilt, Feng resumes her old profession in Taipei’s brothels, secretly sending money home to atone. Years later, her brother, now a police officer, is disheartened to find her living this life…
Directed by Jean Shim (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Asian-American
Seen through the eyes of a Korean American family that leaves the Bay Area for small-town Wyoming after experiencing devastating loss, A GREAT DIVIDE addresses the emotional and psychological impact of racism and xenophobia on Asian Americans, the loneliness and sacrifice of immigrant sojourners and the generational burden of expectations that weigh on their children. But it’s also a story about a family repairing itself after tragedy, a young man breaking out of his shell and finding love, reconciliation and redemption.
Directed by Hur Jin-ho (South Korea) – USA Premiere | Spotlight on Korea
Jae-wan is a successful lawyer who is willing to take unscrupulous cases–all for the payday. His younger brother is an upstanding pediatrician who puts the health of his patients over profit. One fateful night, the two brothers bring their wives together for a meal to discuss the their family and ailing mother. But while they are out, their teenage kids sneak out for a night of drunken excess, with devastating consequences. Putting conscience to the test, the two must now decide the fate of their children…
Directed by Sara Nodjoumi, Till Schauder (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | New American Perspectives
Born in Iran but living in New York City, Nicky Nodjoumi, one of Iran’s most revolutionary artists, traveled back to the motherland to join the Islamic Revolution, making paintings and posters criticizing the Shah’s regime. In 1980, the painter fled Iran following the protest of his solo exhibition at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, and its subsequent shutdown at the hands of Islamic radicals. Decades later, the renowned artist and his daughter attempt to track down the missing paintings in hopes of reclaiming them.
Directed by Masato Harada (Japan) – North American Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Neri (Sakura Ando) and her younger brother Jo (Ryosuke Yamada) make money by perpetrating fraud. On the run, living life in the Osaka underbelly, they carve out an existence as scammers and thieves. But when Neri must decide between her boss/mentor and her brother, all bets are off. Based on the acclaimed novel “Keisou” by Hiroyuki Kurokawa, HIFF favorite Masato Harada returns with a gritty story of people living in the periphery of Japanese society, led by a commanding performance by Sakura Ando (SHOPLIFTERS).
Directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Indigenous Lens
When the free press is swiftly repealed on the eve of an election year for the Muscogee Nation, tenacious Muscogee reporter Angel Ellis fights to bring it back. The election is full of twists and turns, and she refuses to leave the fate of the media to its outcome. With both humor and unparalleled insight, this documentary probes the inner workings of a modern Native American tribe, revealing its media, sovereignty, and elections with a holistic perspective that few audiences have experienced.
Directed by Hwarng Wern-ying (Taiwan) – World Premiere | Spotlight on Taiwan
Faye (Ariel Lin) is an architect at a crossroads, struggling with her love life, career and family, as she returns home to take care of her ailing father. This sparks her to reminisce fondly of her childhood with her deceased grandfather, who was more of a parental figure in her life. A disciple of famed Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-hsien, winning awards as a Production designer, Wern-ying Hwarng’s BE WITH ME is her directorial feature debut.
Directed by Hayao Miyazaki (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Closing Night Film
A young boy named Mahito yearning for his mother ventures into a world shared by the living and the dead. There, death comes to an end, and life finds a new beginning. A semi-autobiographical fantasy about life, death, and creation, in tribute to friendship, from the mind of Hayao Miyazaki (Oscar® winner for SPIRITED AWAY). His first film in 10 years, THE BOY AND THE HERON is produced by Studio Ghibli co-founder Toshio Suzuki, features a musical score from Miyazaki’s long-time collaborator Joe Hisaishi, with theme song for the film “Spinning Globe,” penned and performed by global J-pop superstar Kenshi Yonezu.
Directed by Anthony Chen (China) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on China
In cold wintry Yanji, a city on China’s northern border, young urbanite Haofeng, visiting from Shanghai, feels lost and adrift. By chance, he goes on a tour led by Nana, a charming tour guide who instantly fascinates him. She introduces him to Xiao, a personable but frustrated restaurant worker. The three bond quickly over a drunken weekend. Confronting their individual traumas, their frozen desires slowly thaw as they seek to liberate themselves from an icy world.
Directed by Um Tae-hwa (South Korea) – Hawai’i Premiere | Centerpiece Presentation, Spotlight on Korea
The world has been reduced to rubble by a massive earthquake. While no one knows for sure how far the ruins stretch, or what the cause of the earthquake may be, in the heart of Seoul there is only one apartment building left standing. As time passes, outsiders start coming into the building complex, trying to escape the extreme cold. Before long, the apartment residents are unable to cope with the increasing numbers. Feeling a threat to their very survival, the residents take extreme measures.
Directed by Sixue Qiao (China) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on China
Alus is a Mongolian musician confused about what he wants in life. He also cannot bear to see his mother, who suffers from Alzheimer’s, living like a captive in his brother’s city apartment, so he decides to take her back to the grassland in search of the home she yearns for. As his mother’s condition worsens, Alus tries to stop her from getting lost by tying her to him with a rope. The rope reconnects him to his mother’s thoughts, his hometown, and his native culture…
Directed by Fu Tien-Yu (Taiwan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Taiwan
A-rui has run the family hairdressers in an old-fashioned area of Taichung for more than 40 years. With her tireless attitude and her stylist skills, she is a community institution. Even her children, as flighty and dismissive as they are, follow in her footsteps. However, at a time when A-rui should be taking it easy, she refuses to take a day off and embarks upon a long journey to take care of a client. DAY OFF is a beautifully-shot family drama that depicts intergenerational bonds in Taiwan.
Directed by Adam Deyoe, Fairai Richmond (USA) – World Premiere | HIFF Extreme
Ten years after a worldwide zombie outbreak, a group of seafaring survivors finds refuge with a tropical island community, only to discover a zombie-worshiping cult with plans to rule the post-apocalyptic wasteland. Entirely shot on Oahu with a local production crew and a notable, diverse cast led by a fun, unhinged performance by Hawai‘i favorite Branscombe Richmond, DECADE OF THE DEAD is a fun riff on THE WALKING DEAD and LOST.
Directed by Matthieu Rytz (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Green Screen
Narrated by Jason Momoa and directed by Matthieu Rytz (ANOTE’S ARK, HIFF 2018), DEEP RISING illuminates the vital relationship between the deep ocean and sustaining life on Earth. As oil conglomerates pivot investments to deep-ocean mining, the film examines humanity’s destructive pattern of extracting materials for profit (particularly with a startup seeking rights to mine wide swaths of the Pacific Ocean floor), and asks why we don’t choose, instead, to develop abundant resources to solve our energy problems.
Directed by Rodrigo Moreno (Spain) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
Morán and Román are two bank employees that at some point in their lives question the routine life they carry out. One of them finds a solution, committing a crime. Somehow he succeeds and commits his destiny to his partner. This decision will lead to a resounding change in their lives in search of a better existence. Rodrigo Moreno’s THE DELINQUENTS, which world premiered at Cannes, methodically unfurls a genius, existential tragicomedy on the multitudinous subject of work and freedom.
Directed by Anthony Chen (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
Jacqueline, a young refugee, lands alone and penniless on a Greek island where she tries to survive, and cope with her past. She offers massages to tourists in exchange for one or two euros to battle her hunger, and her daily struggle for survival keeps the memories that haunt her at bay. While gathering her strength, she begins a friendship with a rootless tour guide and together they find the resilience to forge ahead. Starring Oscar nominee Cynthia Erivo (WICKED, HARRIET) and Alia Shawkat (SEARCH PARTY).
Directed by David Gregory (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Documentaries
When Bruce Lee died in 1974 at the peak of his superstardom, he had completed only four feature films. But within hours of his funeral, Hong Kong movie studios began to produce hundreds of unauthorized biopics, sequels, prequels, spin-offs, and rip-offs starring a competing series of Lee lookalikes (Bruce Le, Bruce Lai, Bruce Liang, etc). Over the next decade, fueled by both deception and demand, ‘Bruceploitation’ would become a staple of global cinema, feeding a martial arts appetite that was fueled by the legend.
Directed by Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Takumi and his daughter Hana live in Mizubiki Village. Like generations before them, they live a modest life according to the cycles and order of nature. One day, the village inhabitants become aware of a plan to build a glamping site near Takumi’s house, offering city residents a comfortable “escape” to nature. When two representatives of the glamping company arrive in the village to hold a meeting, it becomes clear that the project will have a negative impact on the local water supply, causing unrest.
Directed by Aki Kaurismäki (Finland) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
FALLEN LEAVES tells the story of two lonely people who meet each other by chance in the Helsinki night and try to find the first and only love of their lives. Their path towards this honorable goal is clouded by the man’s alcoholism, lost phone numbers, not knowing each other’s names or addresses, and life’s general tendency to place obstacles in the way. This gentle tragicomedy is classic Kaurismaki, a low-key treat with moments of real bliss that are sweet, profound, and extremely deadpan.
Directed by Erica Tremblay (Canada) – Hawai’i Premiere | Indigenous Lens
Since her sister’s disappearance, Jax (Lily Gladstone) has cared for her niece Roki by scraping by on the Seneca-Cayuga Reservation in Oklahoma. Every spare minute goes into finding her missing sister while also helping Roki prepare for an upcoming powwow. At the risk of losing custody to Jax’s father, the pair hit the road and scour the backcountry to track down Roki’s mother. What begins as a search gradually turns into a deeper investigation into the complexities of Indigenous women moving through a colonized world.
Directed by Lee Won-Tae (South Korea) – Special Presentation | Spotlight on Korea
Don Lee is a fierce crime boss, who is violently attacked after a fender bender on a rainy night. After fighting back, he barely escapes. With his reputation damaged and fueled with vengeance, he soon forms an unlikely partnership with a detective to catch the assailant, but soon discovers the attacker is a serial killer. World premiering at Cannes 2019, and set for a U.S. remake with Lee reprising his role, this special presentation is part of HIFF43’s Tribute to Korean superstar Don Lee.
Directed by Kim Kyoung-won (South Korea) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Korea
Ji Hyun-Soo is the owner of a private detective agency. One day, a client hires him to find a pet dog. Hyun-soo accompanies her to a remote cottage, where he is attacked and knocked out. When he awakens, he is framed for the disappearance of the client. Taken into police custody, the police vehicle is struck by an incoming car. In the aftermath, Hyun-soo is mistaken as a prosecutor. He joins forces with a female prosecutor and continues the ruse, in the pursuit to clear his name.
Directed by Dan Covert (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | New American Perspectives
What defines a life? How do you decide what matters? Geoff McFetridge’s art is everywhere: from Apple watch faces, to solo shows around the world, to movie titles for Spike Jonze. But this film is more than a primer on Geoff’s prolific career. It’s about the choices we confront in trying to lead meaningful lives. Is there value in commercial success or artistic independence? In responsibility or freedom? And ultimately, how do we use our most precious resource: time?
Directed by Tsukasa Kishimoto (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Eat.Drink.Film, Spotlight on Japan
Set in the northern part of Okinawa, known as Yanbaru, Manna, the chef of a BBQ restaurant is given the task of creating a special sandwich as an offering to the gods. To fulfill the request, he travels around the island and meets with people involved in the food sector, each introducing their favorite sandwich. As he moves on, Manna begins to understand the ideas evolving around sustainable agriculture and community. A hybrid documentary and fiction, HAPPY SANDWICH represents the wonders of Okinawa culture.
Directed by Ty Sanga (Hawai‘i, USA) – World Premiere | Made In Hawai’i
In 2006, Wade Davis sailed with master navigator Nainoa Thompson to learn about wayfinding. Fifteen years later they resume their conversation and unpack the mysteries of traditional navigation and examine the future of Hōkūleʻa. The latest film from Sundance alum Ty Sanga (STONES, Sundance 2011).
Directed by Alexander Payne (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
From acclaimed director Alexander Payne (THE DESCENDANTS, HIFF 2012, SIDEWAYS), THE HOLDOVERS follows a curmudgeonly instructor (Paul Giamatti) at a New England prep school who is forced to remain on campus during Christmas break to babysit the handful of students with nowhere to go. Eventually he forms an unlikely bond with one of them — a damaged, brainy troublemaker (newcomer Dominic Sessa) — and with the school’s head cook, who has just lost a son in Vietnam (Da’Vine Joy Randolph).
Directed by Kolby Akamu Moser, Nainoa Langer (USA) – Festival Premiere | Made In Hawai’i
HOMETOWN LEGENDS is a feature documentary film about five legendary Native Hawaiian kūpuna (elders) who are masters of their craft. These Hawai’i Island legends represent paniolo (cowboys), lawai’a (fishermen), po’e ulana (lauhala weavers), pahu (drum) carvers and hoe wa’a (canoe paddling) – cultural practices that were passed down from generations of their kūpuna. Through their stories of resilience, we are reminded of what truly matters – identity, ‘ohana (family) and aloha ‘aina.
Directed by Zoljargal Purevdash (France) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
Teenager Ulzii lives in an undeveloped area of Ulaanbaatar. When his alcoholic mother leaves him with his younger siblings by returning to the countryside to earn money. Forced to become the provider of the family, Ulzii is faced with challenges to keep his home warm during an intense winter, finding scrap parts to recycle, fend off the stigma of panhandling, all while maintaining the dream to enter a physics competition that can change the course of his life for the better.
USA – Festival Premiere | Green Screen
As an island community, with limited resources that are impacted by climate, Hawai‘i has a greater urgency to find a sustainable way to use our natural resources without exploiting them. Energy and climate are the biggest priorities for humankind today. This special 1-hour documentary will catalyze conversations around climate mitigation and adaptation, clean energy transformation, conservation and decarbonizing our economy. It’s the “Kākou Thing,” to navigate a path forward toward a resilient and sustainable future through HEI Foundation’s “Project Footprint.”
Directed by Lawrence Kan (Hong Kong) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Hong Kong
Based on true events, IN BROAD DAYLIGHT reveals a little-known truth about residential care homes for the disabled that hides beneath the headlines. A news organization’s investigative journalism unit receives a tip about the abuse of residents in Rainbow Bridge Care Home. To expose the home’s wrongdoings, reporter Kay goes undercover to expose the inhumanity inside, searching for the cruel truth under broad daylight. But what she finds may reveal uncomfortable truths she doesn’t want to face.
Directed by Pham Thien An (Vietnam) – Hawai’i Premiere | Southeast Asian Showcase
A reluctant Thien must take the body of his sister-in-law, who died in a freak motorcycle accident in Saigon, and her five-year-old son Dao, who miraculously survived the crash, to their hometown in the countryside. Thien begins a search for his older brother who vanished years ago to hand Dao over to him. On the road, Thien has a series of sublime dreams and enthralling encounters that reignite suppressed memories, forbidden desires, and a reflection of his Catholic upbringing.
Directed by Liz Barney, Alison Week (USA) – Festival Premiere | Made In Hawai’i
ISLAND COWGIRLS highlights two Hawaiian cowgirls (paniolo) who have dedicated their lives to caring for their family ranches. On the northwest side of Hawai‘i island, as La‘i Bertelmann prepares to graduate from high school, she must make a difficult decision whether to stay home in Hawai‘i and continue her family tradition or leave. Meanwhile, on the south side, Lani Cran Petrie is at a crossroads as she continues to plan for the future of her ranch while faced with the uncertainty of an expiring land lease.
Directed by Rebecca Davis, Pete Davis (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Film For Thought
JOIN OR DIE is a film about why you should join a club — and why the fate of America may depend on it. Follow the half-century story of America’s civic unraveling through the journey of legendary social scientist Robert Putnam, whose groundbreaking “Bowling Alone” research into America’s decades-long decline in community connections could hold the answers to our democracy’s present crisis. What makes democracy work? Why is American democracy in crisis? And, most importantly…What can we do about it?
Directed by Ashley LoFaso (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Green Screen
KEEPER OF THE BAY, the documentary, follows the story of a native Hawaiian woman, Cindi Punihaole, and her determination to continue her family’s place-keeping heritage in the face of profound cultural change and human environmental stressors occurring in Kahaluʻu Bay on the Big Island of Hawai‘i.
Directed by Lee Won-suk (South Korea) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Korea
Former top celebrity Yeo-rae meets and marries Jonathan, the most perfect man one could ever ask for. Unfortunately perfect Jonathan turns out to be a slightly raging narcissist with psychopathic tendencies. One day, Yeo-rae bumps into a fanboy, Bum-woo, who happens to be her neighbor. Ignited by the encounter with her fan, she schemes a killer plan with him to retrieve her freedom and fame. KILLING ROMANCE is a fantasia of genres, a comic romance, a musical, a murder plot, and a million things in between.
Directed by Takeshi Kitano (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan, HIFF Extreme
Takeshi Kitano returns to the directors chair in this adaptation of his own novel, a blood soaked samurai tale set in 16th century Japan. Lord Nobunaga, intent on domination, is waging war against several clans when one of his vassals, Murashige stages a rebellion and promptly disappears. Nobunaga assembles his other vassals and orders them to capture the fugitive Murashige. The result is eye-popping, blood soaked vistas (and tons of beheadings), palace intrigue, queer romance, and every major Japanese male actor on the big screen.
Directed by Alice Rohrwacher (Italy, France, Switzerland) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
In 1980s Italy, Arthur (Josh O’Connor), an Englishman with a preternatural ability to connect with the land, finds himself embroiled in the world of the tombaroli, tomb raiders who steal Etruscan artifacts (ancient grave goods and archaeological wonders). In an adventurous journey between the living and the dead, between forests and cities, between celebrations and solitudes, the intertwined destinies of these characters unfold, all in search of the Chimera. LA CHIMERA is a marvelous and magical tale by Alice Rochrwacher (HAPPY AS LAZZARO, MY BRILLIANT FRIEND).
Directed by Colin Cairnes, Cameron Cairnes (Australia, USA, UAE) – Hawai’i Premiere | HIFF Extreme
October 31, 1977. Jack Delroys syndicated talk show Night Owls has long been a trusted companion to insomniacs around the country, but a year on from the tragic death of Jack’s wife, ratings have plummeted. Desperate to turn his fortunes around, Jack plans a Halloween special like no other, unaware he is about to unleash evil into the living rooms of America. LATE NIGHT WITH THE DEVIL is the recently rediscovered recording of what went to air that fateful night…
Directed by Yoji Yamada (Japan) – North American Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Akios job in human resources is wearing him down. To make matters worse, he’s on the brink of divorce with his wife, and his relationship with his daughter isnt smooth sailing. One day, he decides to drop in to visit his mother Fukue (Sayuri YOSHINAGA). However, things seem a little off. Akio is perplexed, feeling out of place in his mothers home, but after encountering kind neighbors and a side of his mother had never seen before, he discovers something he had lost sight of.
Directed by Ryo Takebayashi (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
What if you mashed up THE OFFICE with GROUNDHOG DAY? The result is MONDAYS. Akemi and her office colleagues are going through the same work week over and over again. At first, Akemi doesn’t believe her frantic co-workers, but when the evidence becomes clear, she realizes they must go through a process of elimination to get out of their temporal predicament. Could it be that they are stuck in this time loop because of their unfulfilled boss?
Directed by Hirokazu Koreeda (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
When her young son Minato starts to behave strangely, Saori feels that there is something wrong. Discovering that a teacher is responsible, she storms into the school demanding to know what’s going on. But as the story unfolds “Rashomon” style–through the eyes of mother, teacher and child–the truth gradually emerges. Famed director Hirokazu Kore-eda returns with a uniquely structured story and continues his streak of pulling naturalistic and amazing performances from child actors. MONSTER won Best Screenplay at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Directed by Merienne Raynald (French Polynesia) – Hawai’i Premiere | Pacific Showcase
After having been the victim of an ethnocide after the arrival of Europeans in the Pacific in the 18th century, the Marquesas archipelago is today the scene of an extraordinary revival. For more than forty years, the Marquesans have gathered around their culture and rediscovered whole sections of a heritage that had practically disappeared after decades of ethnocide. Today, younger generations are reclaiming their heritage through one of the most vibrant events in the Pacific: the Festival of Traditional Arts of the Marquesas Islands.
Directed by Takeshi Fukunaga (Japan, USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Rins Tohoku village is in its second year of a devastating famine so severe that babies are being discarded. Rins family are outcasts, and she is obliged to do the other residents’ dirty work, including burying the dead. When a local seer declares the village cursed, Rin is chosen as the first offering to appease the gods. Rin must decide whether to sacrifice herself for the village that has forsaken her or flee to the forbidden realm of Mt Hayachine, her kindred spirit.
Directed by Imran J. Khan (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Film For Thought
It’s the mid-90s in Northern California and 13-year-old Pakistani American Ilyas is facing a major crisis-his parents yanked him out of his comfortable Islamic private school and now he has to face life at public school. Ilyas fears about joining public school are made worse by insecurities due to his inescapable, prepubescent MUSTACHE. Ilyas hatches a hilarious plan to return to his old school-but he must also learn to accept himself. A classic coming-of-age story, MUSTACHE is funny, heartfelt, and expertly directed.
Directed by Yu Sen-I (Taiwan ROC, USA, Singapore) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Taiwan
Three interrelated stories about life as transplants in New York City: A lonely Mandarin-English interpreter who witnesses the suffering of others, gains insights on her own life; two young hip-hop enthusiasts disenchanted by their adventure, find tender love in each other; and a middle-aged couple struggles to keep family intact as they cope with their mentally ill son. These characters inspire one another to find hope in this heavenly city. MY HEAVENLY CITY is the directorial feature debut of Sen-I Yu.
Directed by Keli‘i Grace (USA, Hawai‘i) – Festival Premiere | Made In Hawai’i
Keli‘i Grace (Director, ALA MOANA BOYS) returns to HIFF with a touching tale of High School crushes, cultural preservation and more. MY PARTNER follows two high school boys–Pili (Kaipo Dudoit, who was recently cast in the live action LILO & STITCH), a Native Hawaiian student-athlete standout, and Edmar (Jayron Munoz), a high-achieving Filipino student–both from different social worlds who experience romantic feelings for each other, when they are paired by their teacher to work on a final semester project together.
Directed by Albert Pyun (USA, Denmark) – Special Presentation | Documentaries
Los Angeles, 2027. Troubled cyborg cop Alex (Olivier Gruner) is ordered by police commissioner Farnsworth (Tim Thomerson) to apprehend his former partner and lover Jared (Marjorie Monaghan), accused of smuggling data to information terrorists plotting to kill government officials. Systems cowboys, bio enhanced gangsters and cyborg outlaws all play a part in this battle of man vs. machine. NEMESIS will be a part of a special Albert Pyun Double Feature and will screen before the world premiere of ALBERT PYUN: THE KING OF CULT MOVIES.
Directed by Taika Waititi (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Opening Night Film
Taika Waititi’s NEXT GOAL WINS is the true story of the infamously terrible American Samoa soccer team. Michael Fassbender plays washed up Dutch American coach Thomas Rongen, who is banished to the middle of the Pacific, in an attempt to turn the American Samoa national soccer team into winners. Filmed entirely on Oahu, NEXT GOAL WINS is a sports underdog comedy-drama filled with Waititi’s off-kilter comedic imprimatur, but with his penchant for heart, found family and the Pasifika/Aloha spirit.
Directed by Warwick Thornton (Australia) – Hawai’i Premiere | Pacific Showcase
In the 1940s, during the dead of night, a 9-year-old Aboriginal orphan boy arrives at a remote monastery run by a renegade nun played by Cate Blanchett (who does double duty as a producer on the film). The new boy’s presence disturbs a delicately balanced world in this story of spiritual struggle and the cost of survival. The latest from celebrated filmmaker Warwick Thornton (SAMSON & DELILAH, SWEET COUNTRY), THE NEW BOY continues his filmography amplifying Aboriginal stories.
Directed by Corinna Hunziker (New Zealand, Australia) – USA Premiere | Pacific Showcase
A powerful documentary about New Zealand’s hidden history of racial segregation – When a teacher unearths a ‘secret’ past in the town of Pukekohe, Māori community figures come forward to share personal stories that shaped their lives.
Directed by Patrick Tam (Hong Kong, SAR China) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Hong Kong
NOMAD, directed by Patrick Tam (Wong Kar Wai’s mentor), has long been considered a Hong Kong New Wave landmark. Four carefree lovers in Hong Kong enjoy their youth while danger looms on the edges. Led by an iconic performance from a young Leslie Cheung, NOMAD is a transcendent example of cinema at its most freewheeling. This story about youthful ennui and revolution was heavily censored on its original release. On its 41st anniversary, Tam has re-edited it in his definitive director’s cut.
Directed by Jimmy Chin, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Centerpiece Presentation, Panorama
By 2010, Diana Nyad had long been a singular success, breaking records and becoming a national sensation 35 years earlier before enjoying a prominent career in sports journalism. But after three decades away from the water, the former marathon swimmer finds herself consumed with completing the excursion that had always eluded her: the 53-hour, 110-mile trek from Cuba to Florida. Together with her best friend and coach Bonnie Stoll, the sixty-year-old Diana begins what would become a harrowing four-year journey of intense training. NYAD marks the narrative feature debut of Academy Award-winning filmmakers Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin.
Directed by Anthony Pun (Hong Kong, SAR China, Macao, People’s Republic of China) – North American Premiere | Spotlight on Hong Kong
Water Ng (Chow Yun Fat) is a down-on-his-luck gambler with no social responsibilities, until one day he is asked to take care of his ex-girlfriend’s son, Yeung. When she tells him that Yeung is his son and promises a substantive envelope full of cash, Water agrees to be a father for one month. Soon he notices his son has Autism and quickly gets to understand the difficulties of raising a child with special needs. An unabashedly old-fashioned melodrama fueled by a surprisingly different performance by Chow Yun Fat.
Directed by Theo Rumansara (Indonesia, Papua) – USA Premiere | Pacific Showcase
Orpa is a bookish Papuan teen girl who feels trapped in an arranged marriage set up by her father. Reluctant to her fate, she decides to run away one night to pursue her dream of attending school in Wamena, where she wants to learn more about the medicinal effects of Papuan plants. During her journey she crosses paths with Ryan, a wannabe musician from Jakarta and agrees to take him to Wamena. On their journey a gentle friendship sparks between the unlikely pair.
Directed by Katherine McRae (New Zealand, Japan) – USA Premiere | Pacific Showcase
As freediving couple Sachiko Fukumoto and William Trubridge navigated maternity systems for the birth of their first child, it awoke in them a fierce realization about the lack of choice many parents face. Following the success of her short documentary ‘Water Baby’, director McRae follows Sachiko as she connects with ocean women from around the Pacific, from Hawai‘i, Tahiti, the Cook Islands, and Aotearoa New Zealand. Through their interwoven stories, the film explores the importance of reclaiming traditional birthing knowledge.
Directed by Wim Wenders (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Hirayama seems utterly content with his simple life as a cleaner of toilets in Tokyo. Outside of his very structured everyday routine he enjoys his passion for music and for books. And he loves trees and takes photos of them. A series of unexpected encounters gradually reveal more of his past. PERFECT DAYS, from celebrated German director Wim Wenders, has an ambient urban charm and a sublime validation of the ordinary, a film replete with grace, harmony, and hope that engulfs you in its humane world.
Directed by Jessica Yu (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Panorama
A brilliant but tightly wound, game show-obsessed young Anne (Awkwafina), and her estranged train-wreck of a sister, Jenny (Sandra Oh), must work together to help cover their mother’s gambling debts. When Anne’s beloved dog is kidnapped, they set out on a wild cross-country trek to get the cash the only way they know how: by turning Anne into a bona-fide game show champion. From HIFF alum Jessica Yu (PING PONG PLAYA, HIFF 2007) comes a hilarious road trip movie exploring family ties, and the complexities of sisterhood.
Directed by Katja Esson (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Green Screen
Miami is ground-zero for sea-level-rise. Residents of the historically Black neighborhood of Liberty Square, the first segregated public housing project in the South are the new target of an upcoming revitalization project due to their location 12 feet above sea level. RAZING LIBERTY SQUARE shares perspectives from all angles, residents, community advocates, teachers, developers, and politicians following the redevelopment from start to finish. Liberty Square residents now must prepare to fight a new form of racial injustice climate gentrification.
Directed by Vera Zambonelli, Shirley Thompson, Fé María Vásquez, Amber McClure, Meleanna Aluli Meyer, Marlene Booth (USA, Hawai‘i) – World Premiere | Made In Hawai’i
The Emmy-winning series continues documenting talented and pioneering women filmmakers who tell uniquely Hawai‘i stories through a camera lens. Season 4 features the following: The late Leanne K. Ferrer as the first executive producer of Pacific Islanders in Communications; the late Stephanie Castillo (SANDAAN: 100 YEARS OF FILIPINOS IN AMERICA), Ann Marie Kirk (HOMEALANI), and Jana Kealoha Park (MY PARTNER, E MALAMA PONO WILLY BOY); camerawoman/editor Shaneika Aguilar; and filmmaker Sancia Miala Shiba Nash (part of kekahi wahi film initiative).
Directed by Ryan Kawamoto (USA) – Festival Premiere | Asian-American
REMOVED BY FORCE memorializes the unique and relatively unknown experiences of the 1,500 Americans of Japanese ancestry from 23 geographic areas in Hawai‘i who were evicted from their homes, but not interned, during World War II. Their quest for redress is told from personal interviews and stories by affected individuals, Honolulu Japanese American Citizens League (JACL) and National Asian Pacific American Bar Association (NAPABA) lawyers, volunteers and government officials.
Directed by Isao Yukisada (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Tokyo, 1924–Yuri is the madam of a small bar. In a previous life, she was a brutal assassin with an impressive 57 kill count. One day, upon investigating the strange murder of an entire family, she encounters a young boy left behind. As it turns out this boy may hold the key to finding a large sum of money reported missing by the Imperial Japanese Army. Yuri must re-activate her “particular set of skills” to protect Shinta as they soon both become a target.
Directed by Lee Sang-yong (South Korea) – Special Presentation | Spotlight on Korea
Monstrously sized, hard-boiled cop Ma Seok-do (Don Lee) joins a new squad to investigate a murder case. Soon, he finds out this case involves busting a synthetic drug ring and starts to dig deeper. Meanwhile, the guy behind it all-Joo Sung-chul (Lee Jun-hyuk)-doesn’t stop looking for trouble, and the Japanese drug distributors, Ricky (Munetaka Aoki) and his gang, come to Korea to join the chaos. Things are just about to get out of hand. The third chapter in the mega-successful THE ROUNDUP franchise. Part of HIFF43’s Special Tribute to Don Lee.
Directed by Seo You-min (South Korea) – World Premiere | Spotlight on Korea
K-Pop superstar Do Kyung-soo (aka D.O. of EXO) was a once-promising pianist who returns home, as a result from an injury that has destroyed his confidence. As he practices in a long forgotten music room at his hometown’s university, he has a chance meeting with a young woman playing mysterious music, forcing him to make a once-in-a-lifetime choice. A true star-crossed romantic melodrama, this version updates the original 2007 Taiwanese hit with tried and true Korean touches.
Directed by Felipe Gálvez (Argentina, Chile) – Hawai’i Premiere | Indigenous Lens
Chile, 1901. Three horsemen are hired by a rich landowner to mark out the perimeter of his expansive property. The expedition, composed of a young Chilean half blood, an American mercenary, and led by a reckless British lieutenant, soon turns into a “civilizing” raid. Director Felipe Gálvez Haberle showcases daring work with intent, developing a distinct and original voice in a heady, opaque western reminiscent of THE SEARCHERS but accurately showing vile historical events of colonialism and Native genocide.
Directed by Denise Zmekhol (Brazil, USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | New American Perspectives
Filmmaker Denise Zmekhol originally set on a journey to document her late architect father’s most celebrated work, a modernist glass skyscraper in the heart of S„o Paulo, built in the 1960s as a symbol of the future. To her dismay, the once gleaming glass tower has become condemned and occupied by hundreds of homeless families. A poetic cinematic meditation on displacement, inequality and loss, SKIN OF GLASS is an indictment of the reality of a global crisis: one in six people in the world are squatters.
Directed by Jinyoung Lee Won (USA) – International Premiere | Asian-American, Made In Hawai’i
SONGS OF LOVE is a captivating musical documentary that unveils 120 years of Korean American history in Hawai’i. It weaves together stories and melodies, celebrating resilience, love, and dreams within the community. Set against Island’s stunning landscapes, the film features Grammy-winning violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill, virtuoso violinists Chee-Yun and Ignace Iggy Jang, and slack key guitarist Keola Beamer.
Directed by John Harvey (Australia) – Hawai’i Premiere | Film For Thought, Pacific Showcase
STILL WE RISE is a gripping and powerful documentary film that explores the history of the Aboriginal Tent Embassy. Watching and listening to the voices of leading Indigenous activists Bobbi Sykes, Michael Ghillar Anderson, Paul Coe, Denis Walker, Gary Foley, and their white supporters and opponents we appear to witness history in real time.
Directed by Mitsuhiro Mihara (Japan) – International Premiere | Eat.Drink.Film, Spotlight on Japan
Tatsuo and his daughter Haru run the Takano Tofu Store in Onomichi. They begin their work before dawn every day, carefully selecting beans to make their tofu. While the days are peaceful, Tatsuo learns he is in poor health and worries about his daughter being alone after his death. With the help of some friends, he sets about planning a secret matchmaking strategy to find Haru a partner before the spring.
Directed by Tràn Anh Hùng (France) – Hawai’i Premiere | Eat.Drink.Film
Eugenie (Juliette Binoche), an esteemed cook, has been working for the last 20 years for Dodin (BenoÓt Magimel), a fine gourmand. Growing fonder of one another, their bond turns into a romance and gives rise to delicious dishes served to foreign dignitaries and statesmen. When Dodin is faced with Eugenies reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her. French Vietnamese filmmaker Tràn Anh Hùng (SCENT OF GREEN PAPAYA) won Best Director at Cannes for this sumptuous period drama.
Directed by Naoto Mitake (Japan) – International Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
THIS LAND IS YOUR LAND is an ensemble cast film made up of eight short interconnected stories all taking place in Yaeyama, Okinawa. It features people who have lost somebody important in their lives, and in search of places where they settle themselves in. This film is in celebration of the 50th reversion anniversary of Okinawa from the U.S., while also portraying the Yaeyama islands unique traditions through a contemporary lens.
Directed by Amanda Nell Eu (Malaysia, Taiwan ROC, Singapore, France, Germany, Netherlands, Indonesia) – Hawai’i Premiere | Southeast Asian Showcase
12-year-old Zaffan reaches puberty when her body begins to morph at an alarming rate. In fear of being labeled as a monster, she struggles to maintain being normal at school by trying to conceal her grotesque self… that is until she decides she no longer wants to hide from the world. TIGER STRIPES, from Malaysian director Amanda Nell Eu, crafts a coming-of-age body horror about a young girl discovering the truth behind her rebellious nature that bristles with supernatural energy, thanks to a tremendous young cast.
Directed by Marc Marriott (Japan, USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
Hideki is a Japanese Salaryman who goes on an unwitting journey of self-discovery when he takes a business trip from Tokyo to a Montana cattle ranch, in the hopes of acquiring it to enter the American market in a hair-brained financial gamble. He soon gets a reality check on ranch life, facing insurmountable challenges from cultural clashes to driving his rental car where roads don’t exist. Hideki soon learns the value of people, and is forever changed by the vast American frontier.
Directed by Andy Mackenzie (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Documentaries
Three young, talented surfers (Griffin Colapinto, Hawai‘i’s own Seth Moniz and Ethan Ewing) head to the edge of the Pacific to train for an upcoming competition season. With completely different backgrounds, personalities and style, they still share one universal characteristic: the ability to blow minds in the water and redefine the parameters of modern day surfing. TRILOGY: NEW WAVE is the highly anticipated sequel to the first TRILOGY that was released over fifteen years ago.
Directed by Lin Alluna (Denmark, Greenland, Canada) – Hawai’i Premiere | Indigenous Lens
Renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter has embarked on a personal journey to bring her colonizers in both Canada and Denmark to justice, and be a lightning rod for all Indigenous communities around the globe. But, when her son suddenly dies, Aaju embarks on a journey to reclaim her language and culture after a lifetime of whitewashing and forced assimilation. But is it possible to change the world and mend your own wounds at the same time?
Directed by Tim Savage (Hawai‘i, USA) – Festival Premiere | Made In Hawai’i
Treasures was a series which aired on KHON from 1986 – 1988 and featured unsung heroes and unique individuals in Hawai‘i. Hosted by Brickwood Galuteria, this episode highlights Harriet Purdy who in the early twentieth century swam and dove in Atlantic City shows, Tommy Holmes one of the founders of the Polynesian Voyaging Society, and Kumu Hula Kau‘i Zuttermeister who shares her knowledge across several generations with her family and students.
Directed by Leah Warshawski, Todd Soliday (Hawai‘i, USA) – World Premiere | Opening Night Film, Made In Hawai’i
Surf instructor “Uncle Bully” uses his unique approach to life (in and out of the water) along with his power of simply being present to reach and teach the minds of underserved youth by sharing surf culture, ocean respect, and kindness with them.
Directed by Jeong Tae Lee, Byung Choon You (USA, South Korea) – USA Premiere | Asian-American, Made In Hawai’i
Ever since the first group of 102 Koreans arrived in Hawai‘i in 1903, Korean immigrants have been deeply rooted in the contemporary culture of Hawai‘i. Furthermore, they established schools and organized self-governing bodies to strengthen their Korean identity, as well as raise funds and fight for democratic freedom in the motherland. But, many of these first immigrants have been lost in the history books. UNFINISHED STORY is an attempt to identify these unsung heroes.
Directed by Quark Henares (Philippines) – Hawai’i Premiere | Southeast Asian Showcase
Hopeless romantic Janzen finds another chance at love when she matches with the handsome and seemingly perfect Theo on a dating app. Unfortunately, on the day of their meet-up, Theo ghosts her, leading Janzen into an intricate web of deceit, lies, and catfishing led by sociopathic mastermind Beanie. Director Quark Henares crafts a rare work that transforms the genre into something far deeper and more moving, with a humorous and hard-hitting script based on a real-life incident (chronicled in a controversial Twitter thread in 2020).
Directed by Shahrukhkhan Chavada (India) – USA Premiere | Panorama
Razzak, an unemployed father, endeavors to own an auto-rickshaw for business while his daughter, Ruba, is introduced to an interesting drink worth 100 rupees that she can’t afford. Through a series of everyday events, the film uncovers the family’s struggles, interpersonal conflicts, joys, and ways of life as they navigate through the intertwined yet unassuming layers of social and political influence. Set in Kalupur, a neighborhood in the old city of Ahmedabad, India, this slice-of-life film follows the daily life of a family.
Directed by Herman Yau (Hong Kong) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Hong Kong
Aaron Kwok plays Cheung, an undercover cop who infiltrates a drug cartel led by a notorious Thai drug lord (Sean Lau). In classic heroic bloodshed fashion, the two develop a bond of brotherhood. Cheung’s only hope to escape the treacherous jungle region and his ambiguous morality is to somehow contact the superintendent of the Hong Kong Narcotics Bureau (Louis Koo), who has solemnly sworn to save Cheung and demolish the cartel once and for all.
Directed by PJ Raval (USA) – Hawai’i Premiere | Documentaries
As the world grapples with an emerging global pandemic, three young Filipino women–Lauren, Monica, and Jenah–forge unexpected connections with their families and discover themselves in the process. During this time of crisis, sparked by COVID-19 and the rise of Asian hate crimes, Lauren, Monica, and Jenah give audiences an honest and intimate look into the Filipino concept of “kapwa”. Through self-documented intergenerational conversations and resilience, WHO WE BECOME demonstrates the unbreakable bond of Filipino family and community.
Directed by Yusaku Matsumoto (Japan) – Hawai’i Premiere | Spotlight on Japan
In this thrilling procedural based on true events, Masahiro Higashide (ASAKO I & II) plays real-life computer programmer Isamu Kaneko, inventor of the peer-to-peer (P2P) file-sharing program Winny, released in 2002. After Winny users are arrested for illegally uploading games and movies, Kaneko is apprehended by the police under dubious circumstances with the charged crime of intentionally proliferating piracy. Recognizing the implication of Kaneko’s unjust arrest on Japan’s future, Toshimitsu Dan (Takahiro Miura), a lawyer specializing in cybercrime, takes on the unprecedented case.
Directed by Wanweaw Hongvivatana (Thailand) – Hawai’i Premiere | Southeast Asian Showcase
In 1999, while the world was gripped by the Y2K scare, identical twin sisters “You” and “Me” are also concerned for their future. The twins are so close with one another to the point that they share every aspect of life with each other. One day, a boy named “Mark” comes into their lives. When the twins are confronted with their “first loves which are not sharable” unlike everything else, how will this internal conflict lead the twins into a new phase of their life?