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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 18, 2001

Film festival organizers still hope to land Ebert

• Festival films with Hawai'i links
• 2001 Hawai'i International Film Festival

By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Editor

 •  Festival includes 55 U.S. premieres

The Hawai'i International Film Festival, by the numbers:

• 21: Number of festivals, including this year's

• 150: Number of films to be featured

• 26: Nations represented in the festival

• 12: Number of world premieres

• 55: Number of U.S. premieres

• 4: Number of jurors selecting the First Hawaiian Bank Golden Maile Award winners

• 6: Number of features vying for the Best Feature Film

• 6: Number of documentaries vying for Best Documentary

• 7: Number of bucks it costs to see a film ($6 for HIFF 'Ohana members)

Roger Ebert is not coming to the Hawai'i International Film Festival this year, bypassing the Islands to take on an invitation from the Cape Town South Africa Film Festival.

"But with the changes in the world situation, anything can happen," said Chuck Boller, executive director of the 21st Hawai'i International Film Festival, Nov. 2 through 11 in Honolulu, with Neighbor Island festivities to follow. "Let's just say that he and I have been talking. A lot."

Donald Richie, a highly-regarded Japan-based film critic, historian and author, will take Ebert's seat in film discussion. Richie will analyze "Himatsuri (Fire Festival)" one of his favorite films, from 1 to 5 p.m. Nov. 5 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts Theater.

"The events of Sept. 11 haven't really affected us — just the opposite is true," said Boller about participation in this year's film-a-rama, assembling more than 150 titles from 26 countries to be shown on 16 screens on four islands. "We've been pelted with requests to come here and the hotels are empty."

Sheraton Hotels, he said, has been "very good about handling the room needs, but we have a nonexistent travel budget. The (domestic) carriers can't help us because of the cutbacks and layoffs."

Still, the festival is expected to be one of the biggest, with wider media interest and attendance ranging from "Entertainment Tonight" to the New York Times, from the Hollywood Reporter to Vanity Fair.

"Even the Shanghai International Film Festival is sending a delegation — that's a major coup for us," said Boller.

"Several people who are coming have said to us that they admire the mandate of our festival, which is to increase cultural understanding," he said. "It couldn't be a more important message than now, to teach others about cultures. In many of the films we're showing, people are people who care about their families and their jobs."

There will be some stardust, but exactly who'll be here won't be known until schedules can be adjusted and airline flights confirmed.

Kiefer Sutherland, a star of the Kaua'i-filmed "To End All Wars" by Kona-based director David Cunningham, has been invited and hopes to attend, along with Japanese actors and local extras in the movie. Local performer James McCarthy "also has a bit part that is significant," said Boller. Sutherland has a new TV series, however, and filming schedules may be a problem.

Peter Fonda is also expected to exhibit his 1971 film, "The Hired Hand," which was never released but re-edited and shown at Telluride, Colo., and London festivals. He was expected to be in London before the Hawai'i festival, and an effort is under way to get him here.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, a co-star in such films as "Planet of the Apes" and "Pearl Harbor," will also add a measure of celebrity; he will be one of the jurors selecting the First Hawaiian Bank Golden Maile Award winners.

Among the newer wrinkles — some visible, some not:

• After centralizing screenings in fewer venues in recent years, the O'ahu slate will include new outposts such as the Signature Theatres at Windward Mall and a return to the Waikiki 1 and 2 Theatres. The Signature Dole Cannery Theatres, the Hawai'i Convention Center and the Honolulu Academy of Arts theater also will have screenings.

• Festival organizers have installed a new computerized system that should speed up the reservations and ticket sales operations. "Commercial Data Systems has helped put together a state-of-the-art system that enables us to link membership, Web site and ticketing, to talk to each other and feed off the same database," said Boller. "Up to last year, we couldn't link. It's faster than the old system and we own the new one."

• The festival guide will be in a smaller, user-friendly format, available starting tomorrow at the box office and at Blockbuster and Starbucks locations statewide. An insert of highlights will appear in TGIF (The Great Index to Fun) Oct. 26.

According to Boller, these are among the films not to miss:

• "To End All Wars," the opening night attraction by Kona resident David Cunningham at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at Waikiki 2 and at 6:45 p.m. at Waikiki 1. (A 15-minute delay between screenings allows looping between the twin theaters). While it has a theme of war — the tale is about Allied prisoners of war used as slave labor by the Japanese during World War II — it ultimately is a story of redemption, about the clash of cultural systems befitting the overall festival goal of global cultural exchange.

• "The Endurance: Shakleton's Legendary Antarctic Expedition," a documentary by George Butler, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 6 at Waikiki 2. Includes actual footage of trapped explorers, circa 1914, that goes beyond Hollywood special effects in impact.

• "Lantana," a mystery from Australia starring Geoffrey Rush, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 3 at Waikiki 2.

• "Purple Sunset," which will receive its U.S. premiere at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at the Waikiki 2. "It's a Chinese film (directed by Ziaoning Seng) with a $500,000 budget, about POWs in imperial Japan," said Boller. "It's kind of an anti-war film, but what's interesting is that the director wanted authentic ships and planes for a miniature battle scene that looks incredibly real. So he shopped for his model boats at Pearl Harbor."

• • •

Festival films with Hawai'i links

• "To End All Wars," the opening-night feature largely shot on Kaua'i by Kona resident David Cunningham, at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at Waikiki 2 and at 6:45 p.m. at Waikiki 1. While it has a theme of war —the tale is about Allied prisoners of war used as slave laborers by the Japanese during World War II — it ultimately is a story of redemption, about the clash of cultural systems befitting the overall festival goal of global cultural exchange.

• "Keoni Kalo: A Mele Inoa for Jean Charlot," a short film by Michael Cowell, at noon Nov. 3 at Hawai'i Convention Center 1 and at 2:45 p.m. Nov. 5 at Convention Center 2, at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 7 at Convention Center 1. It focuses on the late Irmgard Aluli's composition of a name song for the late artist.

• "Ellie Parker," an independent film directed by Hawai'i-born Scott Coffey (who also is an actor), shows at 8:30 p.m. Nov. 5 at Academy Theatre, and 2:45 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Hawai'i Convention Center. Coffey has been dubbed "one of the new faces in indie films" by Filmmaker magazine.

• "Ke Kulana He Mahu: Remembering a Sense of Place," a film by Kathryn Xian and Brent Anbeon about Hawai'i's gay and lesbian community, at 6 p.m. Nov. 4 and at 3:30 p.m. Nov. 9 at the Honolulu Academy of Arts theater.

• • •

2001 Hawai'i International Film Festival

On O'ahu: Nov. 2-11

  • Venues: Signature Dole Cannery and Windward Mall, Waikiki 1 and 2, Hawai'i Convention Center, Honolulu Academy of Arts
  • Tickets: $7 ($6 for HIFF 'Ohana); box office at The Shops at Dole Cannery
  • Information: 528-HIFF (4433); fax orders at 524-4986; www.hiff.org
  • Program guide: Available at the HIFF box office, screening sites, Blockbuster Video and Starbucks locations

On the Big Island: Nov. 7-11

  • Venues: Palace Theatre, University of Hawai'i-Hilo campus, Honokaa Peoples Theatre, Aloha Theatre, Keauhou Shopping Center's Paniolo Room, Keauhou Cinemas
  • Tickets: $6 adults, $5 students, seniors, military
  • Information: East Hawai'i, (808) 969-9412; West Hawai'i, (808) 322-3362

On Maui: Nov. 9-11

  • Venue: Maui Arts & Cultural Center
  • Tickets: $6 adults, $5 students, seniors, military
  • Information: (808) 876-0576

On Kaua'i: Nov. 9-11

  • Venues: Kaua'i Community College, Waimea Theatre, Kilauea Theatre.
  • Tickets: $6 adults, $5 students, seniors, military
  • Information: (808) 634-6940

Other information:

  • HIFF 'Ohana: $50, includes six free tickets. To join, call Trevor Tavares, membership and development coordinator, at 528-3456, Ext. 17
  • Box-office hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., starting tomorrow for HIFF 'Ohana members; public sales start Nov. 2
  • Opening night tickets: $25 (no discounts to HIFF 'Ohana members)
  • Web site: www.hiff.org