PR Co-Director Eseel Borlasa’s Top 10 Films to watch with a HIFF 10-Pack

By HIFF News | November 20, 2020

We are sharing HIFF staffers TOP 10 FILMS TO WATCH. With varying personal tastes, these lists are great jumping-off points for audiences 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, it’s our PR co-director Eseel Borlasa’s turn to announce her HIFF40 Top 10, which leans heavily on films highlighting social justice, strong Pinoy voices, and a good number of amazing short films!

THE BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION
I believe that film and storytelling can help us understand our past, and guide us build a brighter future. This film uplifts the Black Panther Party as a whole; deepening the understanding of party leaders and uplifting the foot soldiers who impacted their communities directly with their work. The documentary shines a light on important conversations (race, social justice, communal care), many of which are all too relevant today.

HULI!: KOKUA HAWAII AND THE BEGINNING OF THE REVOLUTIONARY MOVEMENT IN CONTEMPORARY HAWAI’I
This is a great film to pair with THE BLACK PANTHERS. While THE BLACK PANTHERS centers the Panther leaders organizing on the Continent. HULI!: KOKUA HAWAII centers the Modern Hawaiian Movement back tracing it back to Kokua Hawaiʻi, a community-based organization. There is so much power in seeing the images of the movement, and understanding how the efforts of yesterday impact today’s world.

THROUGH THE NIGHT
While I’m not a parent, I truly understand the value of Child Care Providers. THROUGH THE NIGHT explores the personal cost of our modern economy. Child Care Providers, and those who perform Domestic Care are essential for our survival. The verite storytelling in this doc gracefully shows that through the stories of a 24-hour Daycare center. That said, let’s prioritize those who take care of us day in and day out.

THE HEALER AND THE PSYCHIATRIST
Continuing the theme of care, what is additionally important is understanding how culture and spiritual practice converges with health care -especially mental health care. The documentary takes us to Tonga, where we follow a traditional healer and a local psychiatrist and observe their approaches to spiritual affliction and mental illness.

MOGUL MOWGLI
I love bass. I love personal storytelling. I love narratives that unveil new stories that are specific to a certain community yet universally accessible. This film is all that and then some. Riz Ahmed (who also wrote the film with director Bassam Tariq) is brilliant in his role as British-rapper, Zed.

PIECE OF CAKE – Daniel K. Inouye Initiative Showcase – This short film, from student filmmaker Noah Raquino (Punahou School) is fresh and forward in it’s poetic message to the US President. It is a creative rap piece along paired with an unexpected visual.

THE GIRL WHO LEFT HOME
Did. Someone. Say. Musical!!?!? In her directorial debut, Mallorie Ortega wrote and directed… a musical!!! This pulls you in with a familiar tale of “proving your worth”, with pop-driven melodies and stellar performances from Haven Everly, Emy Coligado, Paolo Montalban and more.

LUMPIA WITH A VENGEANCE
Check out this hilarious comedy that features Mark Muñoz, retired professional mixed martial artist, as the surprising superhero who fights evil with golden fried fresh hot lumpia. Too hilarious to be true? Trust me. Check it out for hilarious performances from April Absynth, Earl Baylon and Danny Trejo!

HARANA (SERENADE)Shorts Program: A Better Life
Writer/Director Marie Jamora delivers such a beautiful and refreshed story of immigration and family separation. Encourage a close friend or favorite cousin to watch this too. You’ll want to share that “did you watch it too” convo. with someone you love.

PARACHUTEShorts Program: A Better Life
Also in the same shorts program, is this quiet powerhouse PARACHUTE from Katherine Tolentino. This narrative explores the phenomenon of “parachute kids” in the USA -children who are sent to a new country to attend school; these students live with a chaperon while their parents remain in their home country. In PARACHUTE Tolentino explores the emotional stress of such a situation; the expectation of academic performance juxtaposed against the suppressed feelings of loneliness and a longing to connect.