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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 17, 2001

Short-film festival a long-term investment

By Lee Cataluna
Advertiser Staff Writer

The way Jeff Katts tells it, necessity was the mother of the invention of 'Ohina.

Katts, an independent film maker, had a couple of short films under his belt but nowhere to show them.

That's how the 'Ohina Short Film Showcase was born three years ago.

The idea was to go beyond self-promotion and to create a venue for other Hawai'i filmmakers to show their works.

Katts and Jason Suapaia put out a call for entries. The pieces that were sent in blew them away in terms of variety, creativity and professionalism.

But what really knocked their socks off was the reaction to the one-day film festival. There were three showings of the showcase program at the Honolulu Academy of Arts theater. For the first show, the 280-seat theater was about half-full. For the second show, empty seats were hard to find. By the third show that evening, it was standing-room-only.

Then came the audience question that cornered them. "Are you guys gonna' keep doing this?" Katts and Suapaia looked at each other with hesitation and answered, "Uh, yeah."

The hesitation came from knowing all the work involved in organizing the event. Time and money spent putting together 'Ohina means time and money NOT spent on making their own films. But Katts says he realizes how important it is to keep going, regardless of the sacrifices.

"If you love films, you end up doing more than just making films," Katts says. "I tell people I don't know what I'm doing but at least I'm doing it."

The second year of 'Ohina was rough. The showcase ran the same night as the primary election last year, and also had to compete with the Olympic coverage on TV and the big Waikiki ho'olaulea. Still, evaluation forms handed out to audience members held rave reviews, and in the comment area under "ways 'Ohina can improve," people wrote "keep going."

So that's just what Katts is doing.

He's put out a call for entries of short films or videos (under 30 minutes is allowed, but 10 minutes is encouraged).

Short films were popular in the early days of movies, when serials, news reels and animated pieces were shown in theaters before the main feature. The form is making a big comeback now on a number of Internet sites.

The deadline for entries is Aug. 3, and though Katts is giving people plenty of lead time, he knows, just like the last two years, he'll be swamped with video cassettes at the last minute.

For more information on 'Ohina Short Film Showcase, you can call 951-4413.

Lee Cataluna's column runs Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Her e-mail address is lcataluna@honoluluadvertiser.com.