Congrats to the winning student films who participated in HIFF’s DKII Future Filmmakers contest! All finalists were invited to meet this year’s Youth Ambassador, actress and singer Phillipa Soo (OVER THE MOON and Broadway musical HAMILTON star), and the following winners were announced by our special guest, Ken Inouye. Check out a recording of the Awards Ceremony below.
1st Place, High School
Devan Fujinaka, Iolani School, WITH LOVE
2nd Place, High School
Tiffany Liu, Campbell High School, LIGHT
1st Place, Middle School
2nd Place, Middle School
Isabella Rose Ciera, Isabella Rodriguez, Luc Giusto, Ewa Makai Middle School, DEAR FUTURE PRESIDENT
Originality Award 
Noah Raquino, Punahou School, PIECE OF CAKE

Congratulations to all the student finalists!  

2020 Contest Theme: “A Message to the President: Transitions in Democracy.” 
HIFF DKII Future Filmmakers Student Film Initiative

The Hawai’i International Film Festival will always be an international lighthouse to present cinema for social change. As we partner with organizations like the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, we work to build a better future by working with students and young filmmakers who have a powerful voice to reimagine a new world.
As the nation experiences turbulent times and historic challenges around the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing dialogue around systemic racism through the lens of the #BlackLivesMatter movement, what is resonating with our youth? What messages and hopes do they have when reflecting on their own view of social injustices? Through their eyes and in their words, what does America need most right now? 
Senator Inouye served in the United States Congress through twelve American Presidents. To them, he was an advisor, a mentor, an interrogator, and a friend. From Watergate to Iran-Contra, Senator Inouye held our country’s Presidents and their appointments accountable to their decisions and to the people, earning him praise as “Hawaii’s Quiet Voice of Conscience in the Senate.” In 2010, Senator Inouye was named President Pro Tempore by his peers, becoming third in line for the American Presidency.
A time-honored tradition, the outgoing President leaves a handwritten letter to his successor, offering encouragement, words of wisdom, and support. Regardless of political party, winners or losers, these letters have become a symbol of transition in our American democracy, and an opportunity to reflect on the grace and wisdom of those who serve as Commander in Chief.

Using examples from past Presidents, what would your letter say to the 46th President of the United States of America?


Above is a letter written by George H.W. Bush to President Bill Clinton. 

Q&A with Phillipa Soo & Awards Ceremony | Monday, November 9, Noon – 1:30PM

Philippa Soo Headshot

Finalists of this contest will have an opportunity to have a private Q&A during the online DKII Future Filmmakers Awards Ceremony. This year, HIFF and DKII are honored to host actress Phillipa Soo, who will participate in a live-streamed discussion moderated by Philip W. Chung, the creative director of the YOMYOMF Foundation. Soo will discuss her career, the importance of civic engagement and how young filmmakers and creatives can help shape their world for a better future. 

Soo is best known for originating the role of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in Broadway’s critically acclaimed HAMILTON, garnering her numerous industry awards and a Tony Award nomination. She can currently be seen in the film version of HAMILTON, on Disney+.  Soo co-starred on Broadway in THE PARISIAN WOMAN, as well as playing the title role in the Broadway musical AMELIE. She also originated the role of ‘Natasha Rostova’ in NATASHA, PIERRE & THE GREAT COMET OF 1812. She made her feature film debut in HERE AND NOW. On the small screen, she was previously a series regular on THE CODE, and was featured in SMASH. This fall, Soo will voice a lead role in Netflix’s animated film OVER THE MOON  She can also be seen in Sony’s THE BROKE HEART’S GALLERY and in Disney’s THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN.


Mahalo  for a great online session! Middle and high school students and teachers joined us for the Future Filmmakers Q&A Panel on Zoom to connect, get ideas and tips for their submission to the DKII Future Filmmakers Open Call, and learn from local award-winning Documentary Filmmaker, Ciara Lacy, and past high school student winners, Magnolia Basoc and Jessie Hearther, of previous Future Filmmakers’ film contests.
Missed the session? You can watch a recording below.

Video tutorial created by Phoenix Maimiti Valentine.


The Daniel K. Inouye Institute was established in 2013 to preserve Senator Inouye’s papers and tell his life story; support STEM education, civics learning and international educational-cultural exchanges; and establish a repository of the Asian American/Pacific experience. 

This contest is also supported by the YOMYOMF Foundation, which supports Asian Pacific American artists as well as artists from other traditionally underrepresented communities who wish to pursue careers in film, TV, theater and new media.