The Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) presented their 2018 Jury awards with The Best Made In Hawaii Feature Award going to BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE directed by Aaron Lieber. The jurors also awarded a second place award to MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN, ONE CANOE, ONE PEOPLE, directed by Na’alehu Anthony.
The Made In Hawaii competition film awards category was launched in 2017 to spotlight the flourishing local independent film scene on the Hawaiian Islands. The Jurors shared their thoughts on the winning films: “This year’s Made in Hawaii nominees showcase a beautifully diverse range of stories, that all share a common theme: the transformative impact of community and family. BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE quickly showed us that what we thought we knew, was just the beginning of the story. Emotional and inspiring, this film did what all great docs do – it captured defining moments you can’t believe were captured on film with twists and turns that defied expectations. This amazing story of a deeply relatable underdog was also complemented with epic cinematography and a final shot that has to be seen to be believed.
“This year’s second place awardee, MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN, ONE CANOE, ONE PEOPLE. honors a movie that captures a movement decades, and arguably centuries, in the making. Hokule’a isn’t just a canoe. It’s a compass that reconnects us to our past and points the way to a better future. Over the past 40 years it has not only sparked a Hawaiian renaissance, it has now, incredibly, connected cultures and communities from every point around the globe, a symbolic lei that encircles the world.”
The Best Made In Hawaii Short Film Award winner is MAUKA TO MAKAI, directed by Jonah Okono and Alika Maikau, with the Second Prize in the Made in Hawaii Shorts program going to Erin Lau’s THE MOON AND THE NIGHT.
All films in Shorts programs #1 – 4, plus PACIFIC SHOWCASE SHORTS and MADE IN HAWAII shorts programs are eligible for the overall HIFF BEST SHORT FILM award which was won by MAY 14th, directed by Boo Eunjoo. The jury also announced a Special Jury Mention, for Andre Hoermann and Anna Samo’s OBON; recognizing its striking animated retelling of one survivor’s account of the Hiroshima nuclear bomb attack.
HIFF also debuted the inaugural Ka’ū Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award, presented to an emerging filmmaker who has completed their first or second feature film which went to PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE, directed by Hao Wu.
The 2018 Halekulani Career Achievement Award was presented to actress Moon So-ri. Dubbed the “Meryl Streep” of South Korea, Moon is one of the most acclaimed Asian actresses of her generation. Moon recently directed the feature-length omnibus THE RUNNING ACTRESS.
The Halekulani Maverick Award was given to an international cinema artist who has a unique and eclectic career trajectory, contributing to international cinema and the filmed arts in an innovative way. This year, HIFF presented the award to American actress, writer, and rapper Awkwafina. Awkwafina, whose given name is Nora Lum, brings an impressive range of talent peppered with her signature flair, and has become a major breakout talent this year with her co-starring roles in Ocean’s 8 and Crazy Rich Asians.
HIFF also presented the Halekulani Maverick Award to actor-turned-director Takumi Saito. As an actor, Saito is known for his breakout role in the wildly popular Japanese TV drama “Hirugao”. His feature film directorial debut, Blank 13, quietly evokes the enigma of discovering the private life of a loved one, whether dead or alive; and the elasticity of familial bonds.
The Hawaii International Film Festival’s PIC Trailblazer Award was presented to a cinema artist of Pacific Islander heritage who broadens the scope of Pacific Islander stories onto the world stage, producing award winning work in independent and global cinema, becoming a trendsetter in their field and a cultural ambassador that shines a spotlight on Pacific islander culture in mainstream media.
The 2018 HIFF Pacific Islanders in Communications Trailblazer Award was given to Heperi “Hepi” Mita. Mita’s career began in 2007, working in online journalism for the pulitzer prize winning Las Vegas Sun newspaper. He returned to his home country of Aotearoa / New Zealand in 2011, following the death of his mother — indigenous filmmaking pioneer Merata Mita (UTU). His directorial debut, Merata: How Mum Decolonised The Screen, world premiered at the New Zealand International Film Festival this past summer. HIFF will present the Hawaii premiere of this film at Spring Showcase 2019.
The NETPAC Award is presented annually at international film festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam, Pusan, Singapore, Taiwan, Yamagata, Amiens and Hawaii. HIFF is the only film festival in North America given permission to present the NETPAC award. This year’s NETPAC Award winner is STILL HUMAN by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan.
From the Jury: “The award for best narrative feature for an emerging filmmaker from the Asia Pacific region goes to STILL HUMAN by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan for its humane way of exploring racial and social class, the treatment of the disabled and the aged, and portraying the intersection of hopelessness and dreams.”
2018 Hawaii International Film Festival Award Winners
Made In Hawaii Best Feature: BETHANY HAMILTON: UNSTOPPABLE directed by Aaron Lieber (1st Place); MOANANUIĀKEA: ONE OCEAN. ONE PEOPLE. ONE CANOE. Directed by Naalehu Anthony (2nd Place)
Made In Hawaii Best Short: MAUKA TO MAKAI directed by Alika Maikau & Jonah Okano (1st Place); THE MOON AND THE NIGHT directed by Erin Lau (2nd Place)
HIFF Best Overall Short Film: MAY 14th directed by Eunjoo Boo; OBON directed by Hoermann Andre & Anna Samo
NETPAC Winner: STILL HUMAN directed by Oliver Siu Kuen Chan