Springtime for Cinephiles
Spring Arts film / Spring Arts film
Hawaii’s film scene never sleeps, thanks to our irrepressible homegrown talent, restless curators, thriving niche impresarios and ever more adventurous commercial programmers. Here’s what’s coming up.
Dippin’ at the Duke
At the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Museum of Art (HMA), long-running spring favorites return, bigger and better than ever, promises Abbie Algar, film curator, citing the Jewish Film Festival (3/2–3/15), the Cinematheque Francaise (5/4–3/17) and Filipino (5/18–3/30) festivals. “Hollywood Allure: Elegance on the Big Screen” (3/16–3/28) pays tribute to Monroe, Hepburn and Grace Kelly, says Doris Duke manager Taylour Chang, while DocUSA (3/12–3/18) brings the heat with currently acclaimed The Central Park Five and other documentaries. Their vindaloo-hot Bollywood festival is currently in progress, and the Honolulu African-American Film Festival kicks off Feb. 16 with an opening night Sean Priester soul food feast and double doc feature, Jesse Owens and Josephine Baker: Black Diva in a White Man’s World. “To Earth with Love” (4/20–5/3) continues the HMA’s commitment to environmental programming, with a series celebrating our good green earth and exploring ways to protect it for generations to come, Algar says. This year, in addition to regular Opera in Cinema and Ballet in Cinema offerings, there will also be live musical events, including a chamber music recital by Dawn Upshaw and Last Saturday Roots in Jazz concerts showcasing top local and international talent.
Over at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), executive director Chuck Boller spoke to the Weekly just hours after a HIFF retreat, in which the year’s agenda was set, and a couple hours before jetting off to his 15th Golden Globes. “On Sunday, Feb. 24,” he said, “we’ll have Oscar Night, our only fundraiser of the year. One of only 49 such parties approved by the Motion Picture Academy, we get the live feed from L.A. starting at 3 p.m.” The special host will be Oscar-winning actress Marcia Gay Harden for a silent auction that will include Oscar and MPA memorabilia. This year’s five-course, four-hour gala will be held in the ballroom of the Modern, with courses spread out and themed to nominated movies.
“Oscar Night is where we get the majority of our funding, including funding for our educational activity,” said Boller. “We have served over 10,000 students through our four programs.” Last year, HIFF started a Creative Lab New Media Academy program and a DIY film contest for seniors, called Kupuna Lens. He anticipates adding scriptwriting workshops and other courses to help develop local talent. Boller is especially optimistic about continuing HIFF’s 10-year relationship with China, particularly Shanghai University, where he’s set up an exchange program between Chinese and Hawaii filmmakers.
Last year’s Fall HIFF included many notable Chinese and Asian imports. “For years Hollywood was afraid of China,” Boller says, “but now they see the potential. They’re very interested. [Hollywood industry newspaper] Variety actually came to us and asked for an interview to explain the Chinese scene.”
The spring HIFF will run April 5–11 at Regal Dole Cannery. Plans call for about 35 films and a special achievement award, says Boller, noting that the lineup is often of exceptional quality because it includes films that were booked up last October.
One of last year’s disappointments was the abrupt shuttering of Showdown in Chinatown, caused by too much success for a single producer to handle. This March 16 the 7-year event returns for a bi-monthly “film challenge” at 7 p.m. at NextDoor–and there will be extra helping hands, says marketing and production director Cyrina Hadad. Writing and dialogue challenges have also been added.
The first improv topic will be announced at 5 p.m. on Wed. March 13, giving challengers a 48-hour headstart on making their own Citizen Kane or, maybe more likely, Gangnam Style.
A total of five challenges will be offered in 2013, ending in November with a Championship Challenge. Showdown in Chinatown has plans to continue outreach into other islands via local film festivals, says Hadad.
Film Fridays at Coffee Talk
Every second Friday at Kaimuki caffeine-arena Coffee Talk, owner Liz Schwartz is hosting a local filmmaker’s free big-screen showcase. Apply now and throw your hat in the ring, or come to engage with lively cinephiles high on Ms. Schwartz’s gingerbread.