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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 8, 2001

Movie Scene
Maui film fest offers fun, food under the stars

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

Bruno Gantz and Guiseppe Battiston in "Bread and Tulips," an Italian film among 40 to be offered at the Maui Film Festival.
Films, food, fun, fellowship.

The Maui Film Festival, a five-day party of movies and kau kau opening Wednesday in Kahului and Wailea, is offering more movies, tons of food, plenty of music, and hearty party fare.

It will showcase movies screened beneath the stars at a golf course and at water's edge on a sandy Wailea Beach. And yes, more traditional screenings will be in a theater.

For foodies, the Taste of Wailea next Saturday night assembles chefs from an array of Wailea eateries, each offering savory fare augmented by wine.

With attendance expected to increase by 15 percent, up from 6,500 at last year's inaugural to 7,500 this year, the festival looms as the Valley Isle's most enticing cultural and culinary event.

The number of works to be shown — 40 films, 30 features, 10 shorts — is up 300 percent, said Barry Rivers, festival organizer. And Maui is taking advantage of, well, Maui's allure to the visitors, with environment as much of a lure as cinema or cuisine.

"Maui, Maui, Maui — like, location, location, location — is what we're selling," said Rivers. "We're making the best use of our island, showing films under the stars (a Celestial Cinema series, on the slopes of the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf courses) and what I like to call toes in the sand (a SandDance Theater series of silent films, with live musical accompaniment, on Wailea Beach).

"We're dovetailing the Hawaiian experience as part of the festival," said Rivers. "As part of the Celestial Cinema, we'll have an astronomer every night, who will talk about the night sky, with storytelling about how Hawaiians and Polynesians navigators followed the stars."

Forget stadium seating.

At the Wailea course, film buffs will gather at a slope at the pristine Wailea golf course, to watch movies on a 50-foot-wide screen with digital sound.

Later at night, a casual beachfront screening (free admission for those who have a ticket stub to any other event), will offer a nightcap of uncommon films.

"We had one SandDance screening last year and we have three this year," said Rivers.

The Maui Film Festival is one of 550 independent film festivals, all vying for movies. "It's very competitive," Rivers said about trying to snare titles. So far, Maui patrons have not had the misfortune of being left out in the cold when a hot title is on the docket.

"Our venues are large enough — for now," said Rivers. "And when you buy a ticket, you don't have to commit to a particular film at a particular time. We pretty much can accommodate anyone who comes because we're trying to be as user-friendly as possible."

Castle Theater, the conventional space at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, can accommodate 1,200. The outdoor screenings at the Wailea golf course can seat 2,500.

The Maui festival differs from the statewide Hawaii International Film Festival in that HIFF focuses on films with an Asian-Pacific posture and "ours is held together by programming that shows a compassionate vision, with life-affirming themes."

And, for star-gazers, there will be a galaxy of guest stars, but their identities are being kept under wraps.

Rivers, who's previewed most of the films, is hard-pressed to select a favorite.

"There are some pretty inspiring works," he said.

The opening night attraction, "An American Rhapsody," is about a family inadvertently fleeing Hungary without its youngest child, reuniting with the daughter five years later in California where she has to choose which of life's path to take.

The closing night movie, "Bride of the Wind," is set in turn-of-the-century Vienna and deals with a Victorian woman who arouses the passions of Europe's greatest artists. It is directed by Bruce Beresford, who helmed the Oscar-winning "Driving Miss Daisy."

Rivers said audiences likely will embrace "Amy's Orgasm," about a self-help author who advises her female readers to do without men, only to find herself attracted to a shock jock with sexist attitudes, and "Brooklyn Babylon," a hip-hop love story inspired by the Biblical "Song of Songs," from director Marc Levin.

"The festival is serious fun," said Rivers.

Maui Film Festival
Wednesday through June 17


  • Celestial Cinema, on the slopes of the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Courses
  • CenterStage, at Castle Theater, Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului
  • Maui Digital Theater, Grand Wailea Resort
  • SandDance Theatre, on the beach at Wailea

Single tickets

  • CenterStage premiere, $10
  • Maui Digital Theater, $10
  • Filmmakers Panel, $10
  • Celestial Cinema, $20
  • Silversword Award Tribute, $25
  • SandDance Theater, free with ticket stub or pass
  • Opening night buffet, $75*
  • Centerpiece Gala, $75*
  • Taste of Wailea, $95*
  • Closing night buffet, $75*

* Includes Celestial Cinema premiere

Festival passes

  • Evening Star, $50 (includes one Celestial Cinema premiere, all SandDance Theater screenings, plus a choice of four CenterStage or Maui Digital Theater premieres of Filmmakers Panel)
  • Rising Star, $100 (includes all Celestial Cinema premiers, SandDance Theater special screenings, Filmmakers' Panels, plus two CenterStage or Maui Digital Theater premieres)
  • Shooting Star, $200 (includes all Celestial Cinema, CenterStage and and Maui Digital Theater premieres, SandDance Theater special screenings, Filmmakers Panel, plus complimentary VIP parking for the first 100 pass holders)
  • Comet, $500 (includes all Shooting Star benefits, plus admission to Silversword Award Tribute, Taste of Wailea, Opening Night Buffet, Starry Starry Night Centerpiece Gala, and Closing Night buffet, plus press reception and VIP parking at Celestial Cinema).
  • Big Bang, $1,000 (sold out)
  • Creator, $3,500 (sold out)

Tickets: on sale at SeaWatch Restaurant next to Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course; CenterStage Cinema tickets at Maui Arts & Cultural Center, (808) 242-SHOW (7469); also on sale at Borders Books & Music, (808) 871-6160; Tropical Disc, (808) 874-3000; CelebritÚs Fine Art Gallery at The Shops at Wailea, (808) 875-6565; Wailea Gold & Emerald Pro Shop, (808) 875-7450.

Reservations: (808) 579-9244 or check www.mauifilmfestival.com

Sampling the fare at the Maui Film Festival


  • Opening Night Twilight Buffet, 5:30 p.m., Wailea Gold & Emerald Course.
  • "An American Rhapsody," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.


  • "Here's To Life," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
  • "Born Romantic," 5 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "Amy's Orgasm," 7:30 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "Extreme: The Making of an IMAX Film," 7:30 p.m., Maui Digital Theater.
  • "The Cameraman," 11 p.m., SandDance Theater.

June 15

  • "Delivering Milo," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
  • "Song of Tibet," 5 p.m., venue to be announced.
  • "Brooklyn Babylon," 7:30 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "Starry Starry Night" gala, 10 p.m., SeaWatch Restaurant.
  • "Woman in the Moon (Part I)," 11 p.m., SandDance Theater.

June 16

  • "Taste of Wailea," 5 p.m., Wailea Gold & Emerald Courses.
  • Special surprise premiere, 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
  • "The Big Animal," 2 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "Bread and Tulips," 7:30 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "Woman in the Moon (Part II)," 11 p.m., SandDance Theater.

June 17

  • Closing Night Twilight Buffet, 5:30 p.m., Wailea Gold & Emerald Courses.
  • "Bride of the Wind," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
  • "The Most Fertile Man in Ireland," 2 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "Underestimating Jake," 2 p.m., Maui Digital Theater.
  • "Christmas in the Clouds," 7:30 p.m., CenterStage.
  • "All Over the Guy," 9:30 p.m., CenterStage.

Note: Check www.mauifilmfestival.com, for a complete schedule.