“United we stand,” is the theme for the 2023 HIFF43 Film for Thought (FFT) series presented by the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities (HIHumanities). It is a phrase so often heard in the United States that the second half of the saying, divided we fall, is frequently left unsaid. It is assumed that’s already known. But what remains unknown and what are we, perhaps, not asking when we hear, united we stand? In a society that places a particular emphasis on the freedoms of the individual, what does it mean to stand united?
The FFT films this year invite us to ask questions about community, about unity, about justice, about privileges, about assumptions, about grace. Both NO MĀORI ALLOWED (New Zealand) and STILL WE RISE (Australia) document the societal responses to systemic oppression experienced by a Māori community in New Zealand and the Aboriginal people of Australia. MUSTACHE is a coming-of-age story of a boy growing up in Northern California struggling to negotiate the demands of family, community, and individual identity. JOIN OR DIE (another phrase deeply rooted in U.S. political history) chronicles the life’s work of political scientist and academic, Robert Putnam, who believes Americans joining clubs will strengthen the fabric of our civil society. Each film, in its own way, grapples with what it means to belong to a community.
Along with scholars essays written for each film program, HIFF has included pre-recorded video discussions with the filmmakers for each film. Below is a listing of the video discussions moderated by an FFT scholar, as well as their corresponding and authored essay.
JOIN OR DIE FFT In Conversation w/ Directors Rebecca Davis & Pete Davis
Read the accompanying JOIN OR DIE FFT Essay written by Halena Kapuni-Reynolds
NO MĀORI ALLOWED + STILL WE RISE FFT In Conversation w/ Directors Corinna Hunziker (NO MĀORI ALLOWED) & John Harvey (STILL WE RISE)
Read the accompanying NO MĀORI ALLOWED + STILL WE RISE FFT Essay by Shannon Pōmaikaʻi Hennessey
Also, congratulations to director Corinna Hunziker and the NO MĀORI ALLOWED team for winning the HIFF43 Pasifika Award presented by Pacific Islanders in Communications, which was announced at the HIFF43 Awards Gala. Read the exclusive announcement in Variety.
MUSTACHE FFT In Conversation w/ Director Imran J. Khan
Read the accompanying MUSTACHE FFT Essay by Joseph Han.
Beginning in 2010, Film for Thought (FFT), a collaborative program between HIHumanities and HIFF, was born. Film For Thought is a special program designed to inspire critical discourse and community dialogue through the medium of film. Celebrating the longstanding relationship between HIHumanities and HIFF, FFT features a select group of films that resonate particularly with aspects of the humanities. As part of this programming, HIHumanities invites humanities scholars to respond to these selected films through written essays and panel discussions.