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2 Hawaiʻi film festivals launch fresh entertainment online and in-person

A scene from the Singaporean film "Tiong Bahru Social Club."
"Tiong Bahru Social Club"
13 Little Pictures
A scene from the Singaporean film "Tiong Bahru Social Club."

During the pandemic, streaming entertainment became a popular pastime. After 18 months, however, two Hawaiʻi film festivals are betting people are ready for fresh material and in-person moviegoing.

You may have missed "The Fabulous Filipino Brothers" on Oʻahu — but it will screen at Consolidated Kaʻahumanu and in Waimea this coming weekend.

The Hawaiʻi International Film Festival turns 41 this year, and is in great condition with both streaming and in-theater events. Features include a Sundance Film Festival standout, Chris Yogi's "I Was a Simple Man," and "Waterman," the story of Duke Kahanamoku.

Navigate to what you like by heading to the HIFF41 Festival Program Guide. Scroll through the titles, or try searching by country

From Singapore this year, if "Squid Games" intrigues you, check "Tiong Bahru Social Club," about a relentlessly happy place.

Streaming from Vanuatu: "We've Only Got This World." Facing daily, personal effects of climate change and coming of age. It's a production by the Wan Smolbag Theatre troupe based in Port Vila.

From Bangladesh, "The Salt in Our Waters." A film where cultures and climate change are clashing, it's a lens on what we would not otherwise see.

Or search documentaries for a new crop on fashion and the clothing industries. In "Faceless," we see Hong Kong protesters in the summer of 2019. One protester asks two questions: Does this kind of protest still work? But can you live with yourself if you don't?

A HIFF event for "The Sword and the Sorcerer" on Nov. 6, 2021.
Hawaiʻi International Film Festival
A HIFF event for "The Sword and the Sorcerer" on Nov. 6, 2021.

HIFF is also holding streaming talks and industry events.

The HIFF XR Weekend launches Friday, Nov. 19, at Box Jelly then unfolds over the weekend at the Entrepreneur's Sandbox. The Sandbox is the State of Hawaiʻi's creative incubator in Kakaʻako makai, and offers special screening facilities.

Most augmented and virtual reality experiences are free of charge. You should preregister online for any that involve headsets and eyewear. Others operate through QR codes and your own mobile devices.

Experience nature, animations, or a symphony through virtual reality. Even the recollections of aJapanese internment camp survivor.

HIFF films and events continue in neighbor island theaters through Nov. 21 and online through Nov. 28.

The Maui Film Festival launches Wednesday, Nov.17. It's known for inspiring films about health, spirituality, the planet, with an eye for Hawaiʻi films. This year, their 21st edition is both virtual and outdoors.

Speed of Light Virtual Cinema offerings include films like "Mission: JOY." Two jazzy looking soulmates, who call themselves the mischievous brothers, they're the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. They talk about how to create joy in a pretty complicated world.

And under the stars at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center, "The Rhumba Kings" screens Friday, Nov. 19. General admission seating in pods of two to four at A & B Amphitheater. It's Congolese rhumba. One musician calls it, "Creating music to restore our dignity."

Maui Film Festival Digital screens through Dec. 8.

Back at HIFF, "I Was A Simple Man," written and directed by Christopher Makoto Yogi of Honolulu and starring Steve Iwamoto and Constance Wu, is getting its theatrical release at Consolidated Theatres. Consolidated will kick it off with a Q&A with Yogi and special guests at select locations and times for its opening weekend:

  • Friday, Nov. 19 – Mililani, 4:15 PM & 7:15 PM
  • Saturday, Nov. 20 – Kahala, 1:20 PM, 4:20 PM, 7:20 PM
  • Sunday, Nov. 21 – Kahala, 1:20 PM & 4:20 PM

"I Was A Simple Man" won the Jury Prize as this year's Best Made in Hawaiʻi Feature.

Noe Tanigawa covered art, culture and ideas for two decades at Hawaiʻi Public Radio.
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