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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 2, 2001

Sept. 11 muted much film-industry hoopla

Veterans of World War Ii take centerstage in films
Veterans' saga touches a son's life
WWII film explores forgiveness
6 films in running for top prize
Jurors are film-industry notables
Hawai'i International Film Festival information

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

The film festival circuit has taken a more solemn turn since the attacks of Sept. 11, said David L. Cunningham, director of "To End All Wars."

"This is my fifth festival in the last few months," he said of his participation in the Hawai'i International Film Festival, under way today. "And everything's different now. I think every festival is suffering now, to try to strike a chord that will ring true with what's happening in the world.

"While the festivals still are generally known for celebrating cinema, a lot of people are still rattled by what happened on 9/11," said Cunningham. "Festivals have taken a different tone and the impact has been dramatic. "

To illustrate, he said "Wars" was to have a huge premiere in Toronto. "Kiefer Sutherland (who stars in the film) and Ernest Gordon (whose true-life experience is the source of the tale) were going to be there. But basically, a lot of the planes were 'frozen,' so they couldn't go. Even some key critics couldn't attend."

Further, he said, some are fearful of airplane travel; some want to make trips but schedule changes prohibit easy connections. "This all means that as filmmakers, we need to ramp up, and do everything differently now, perhaps with smaller screenings but more of them."

The film earned hurrahs in Toronto despite the lack of hoopla and celebrities. HIFF, likewise, has had some difficulty getting a roster of celebrities here for the screenings.

Cunningham fears that Hollywood may pull back serious filmmaking to churn out only romantic, light pictures in the wake of the terrorism. Numerous projects with terrorism themes already have been held back or abolished "and what I'm saying, guys, is that people want to deal with real issues right now, and not just be served lightweight films that deal with nothing. All our conversations since Sept. 11 have become deeper, dealing with real issues. And that's why I think our film, which addresses real issues, has relevance in these tough times. I am truly honored and privileged to have my film open the festival in Hawai'i."