Hawaii International Film Festival 33: A Year of Tributes
Paul Booth, Influx Magazine

I have attended HIFF many times as a delegate. I’ve had the honor of having films play the festival, I’ve moderated an event and they sponsored a student film festival I ran from 1999-2003. Even though I have left Hawaii, I still consider it my home and this festival is my home festival. The festival director Chuck Boller has always remained true to the vision of HIFF and its staff. To bring cultures together through film. Every year hundreds, upon hundreds of excellent films are shown. You can’t count how many countries or different genre’s you see, the festival is completely diverse.

For this article I wanted to acknowledge two special events and mention one film. The Film will be covered in even greater detail in our Filmmaker Friday series on 10/25, because I have lined up an interview with Michael Ng, director of Peace by Piece. Mike and I go way back, in fact the film I produced in 2001 that won the “Aloha Airlines Best Film in Hawaii Award” starred Mike. I say this because HIFF is about tradition and creating an Ohana (Ohana means family in Hawaiian).

Monday October 14th they celebrated the career with a tribute to long-time HIFF friend and supporter Roger Ebert. Ironically since I became part of the HIFF family, Roger Ebert seemed to attend every year I couldn’t. The festival’s director Chuck Boller knew my love for film history and without fail (even if last-minute), the phone call would be “Paul, Roger can’t make it.” I kind of smile and wish I could have attended this tribute they put together. One year he did a shot by shot breakdown and analysis of Citizen Kane. That was something I would have loved!


The incomparable Roger Ebert changed the way we watched movies. Bringing film criticism from the ivory tower to our living rooms every week with his partner Gene Siskel on the PBS show AT THE MOVIES, and his tens of thousands of reviews in the Chicago Sun Times and his award-winning film essays and countless books, and through his embracing of the internet and social media, Roger was a true cultural worker, promoting not only movies, but also the way we see life through movies.

This event had speaker, Chaz Ebert, who is on this year’s Narrative Jury, Ebertfest director Nate Kohn, HIFF executive director Chuck Boller, HIFF founder Jeannette Paulson-Hereniko and other friends will convene and tell stories about Roger, his legacy and his many visits to HIFF.

HIFF is also a truly international Film Festival, since it literally sits in the middle of the ocean with the entire world surrounding it.

On October 14th HIFF celebrated an ongoing partnership with The Vilcek Foundation highlighting the NEW AMERICAN FILMMAKERS program showcasing foreign-born filmmakers including directors, editors, writers, composers and actors who currently work within American cinema.

Six foreign-born filmmakers, who were selected to screen their works and share their insights at HIFF 2013, were honored at a VIP reception attended by the film community and friends of HIFF. It included filmmakers from South Korea, The U.K., Japan, France and Cyprus.

“The Hawaii International Film Festival is honored to continue our partnership with The Vilcek Foundation as we shine the spotlight on the works of new American filmmakers,” said Robert Lambeth, HIFF deputy director. “The Hawaiian Islands are home to people from all corners of the globe truly making HIFF the ideal platform to share these works with welcoming audiences.”

There is always something good for everyone and it is no doubt one of those festivals, you simply can not see everything. Happy 33rd birthday to the Hawaii International Film Festival.


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