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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 14, 2002

Spring HIFF Festival schedule

Advertiser Staff

Here's the complete roster of films in HIFF's Spring Film Festival (all screenings at the Dole Signature Theatres):

April 19

• "The Cat's Meow" (USA, 2001), 6:30 p.m. — Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. A look at a fateful excursion aboard William Randolph Hearst's private yacht, in November 1924, that brought together some of the century's best-known personalities, and resulted in a still-unsolved, hushed-up killing. Opening night film.

• "The Care of My Cat" (South Korea, 2001), 8:45 p.m. — Directed by Jeong Jae-eun. A coming-of-age drama about three young women in search of their place in the world. NETPAC (Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema) Award winner for Best Asian Feature at the Pusan Film Festival.

April 20

• "Asoka" (India, 2001), noon — Directed by Santosh Sivan. Continuing the tradition of Bollywood extravaganzas like "Lagaan," this grand epic chronicles the life of Prince Asoka, an icon in Indian history. Blends historical drama with action sequences, melodrama, comedy and music.

•"Nijinsky" (Australia 2001), 1 p.m. — Directed by Paul Cox. Visceral and abstract, this film interprets the diary entries of the famous dancer during his nervous breakdown in 1917, while in exile in St. Moritz, waiting for the war to end.

•"Under the Moonlight" (Iran, 2001), 3:15 p.m. — Directed by Reza Mir-Karimi. Seyyed Hassan, a young Iranian from the countryside, studies at Quran school. While the students prepare for a ceremony, Seyyed realizes he does not have the proper clothes, so sets out to buy some, only to be robbed. In his quest for the thief, the future mullah discovers a side of society he did not know, with outcasts such as a writer, a musician and a prostitute, who live in the slums between pillars beneath a freeway.

•"How Harry Became a Tree" (Ireland/United Kingdom/France/Italy), 3:30 p.m. — Directed by Goran Paskaljevic. This darkly humorous and mythical fable, based on a classic Chinese tale, involves Harry (played by Colm Meany), a poor farmer who recently lost his wife and son during the Irish civil war. He believes that to define a life, one must have a sworn enemy, thus deciding to focus his hatred toward George, the village publican and shopkeeper.

•"Cherish" (USA, 2001), 6:30 p.m. — Directed by Finn Taylor. Difficult to classify, and an attention-getter at the Sundance Film Festival, this movie has a rocking '80s soundtrack and a script filled with "Memento"-type twists and turns, alternately quirky and inventive. Robin Tunney stars as a woman under house arrest, who concocts weird schemes to escape her "tower."

•"Agitator" (Japan, 2001), 8:45 p.m. — Directed by Miike Takashi. A yakuza leader seeks a merger of rival gangs in this look at political and business machinations amid a landscape of power and territoriality.

April 21

•"The Mystic Masseur" (Trinidad, 2001), 1 p.m. — Directed by Ismail Merchant. This adaptation of the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by V.S. Naipaul, set in colonial 1940s Trinidad, follows Ganesh, a man determined to write a book. He sets up shop as a masseur while pursuing his dream, but becomes an expert in Hinduism and mystical healing and proclaims himself the Mystic Masseur.

•"Chicken Rice Wars" (Singapore, 2001), 1:15 p.m. — Directed by CheeK. A hip, hilarious take on "Romeo and Juliet," pitting the Wongs against the Changs, who both own famous chicken and rice eateries.

•"Markova: Comfort Gay" (The Philippines, 2001), 3 p.m. — Directed by Gil Portes. This is a true story of Markova, a gay man forced to become a "comfort man" for Japanese armed forces during World War II occupation by the Philippines.

•"Roots and Branches" (China, 2001), 3:30 p.m. — Directed by Yu Zhong. This family melodrama was one of the biggest box-office hits in China last year. A tragic accident leaves the four Qi children as orphans, and the children are separated. Eldest daughter Sitian, an accomplished music conductor, returns to China for her first concert and a mission to search for her long-lost siblings.

•"Dogtown & Z-Boys" (USA, 2001), 6:30 p.m. — Directed by Stacy Peralta. Sean Penn narrates this documentary, an Audience Award winner at Sundance, which chronicles the skate/surf movement in a grungy area of Santa Monica.

• "Lan Yu" (China/Hong Kong, 2001), 8:45 p.m. — Directed by Stanley Kwan. Based on an Internet novel, this love story is set against the turbulent and political '80s of China, leading up to the Tiananmen Square massacre.

•"The Princess Blade" (Japan, 2001), 9 p.m. — Directed by Shinsuke Sato. Yuki uses her sword to cut through more than her foes; like her past, to find her way to true destiny as she seeks happiness with Takashi. But filial piety and demons hold her back and she soon discovers a dark secret. The film has been described as a Japanese "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" — a Nihonjin seeking to save the world.

April 22

•"What Time Is It There?" (Taiwan, 2001), 6:30 p.m. — Directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. After the death of the family patriarch, his wife and son become the victims of the mundane and repetitive; mother prays constantly for the return of her husband's spirit, while son Hsiao Kang sells watches in the streets of Taipei.

•"Rain" (New Zealand, 2001), 8:45 p.m. — Directed by Christine Jeffs. It's 1972, and Janey (Alicia Fulford-Wierzbicki) has traveled to the beach for a long, lazy summer with her family. She teachers her little brother to swim, while their scotch-sedated parents ignore each other, wallowing in their messy marriage.

April 23

•"Chicken Rice Wars," 6 p.m. See April 21.

•"Roots and Branches," 6:30 p.m. See April 21.

•"Flower Island" (South Korea, 2001) — Directed by Song Il-Gon. A Pusan Film Festival winner, a road movie of three wounded women in search of a mythical island.

April 24

•"How Harry Became a Tree," 6 p.m. See April 20.

•"Under the Moonlight," 6:30 p.m. See April 20.

•"Pistol Opera" (Japan, 2001), 8:45 p.m. — Directed by Seijun Suzuki. This is a sequel to the '60s cult classic, "Branded to Kill," and follows the exploits of Killer No. 3, the Stray Cat.

April 25

•"La Spagnola" (Australia, 2001), 6:30 p.m. — Directed by Steve Jacobs. "The Spanish Woman" was the closing film at last year's Sydney Film Festival. Lola and her daughter live in squalor after Ricardo, the former patriarch, runs off with his new blonde lover Wendy, and buys a flashy sports car with the last of the family savings. When Ricardo expires, he leaves everything to Wendy, prodding a scorned Lola to seek revenge by stealing back the car.

•"Y Tu Mama Tambien" (Mexico/USA, 200), 8:45 p.m. — Directed by Alfonso Cuaron. A look at two adolescent youths, Julio and Tenoch, on the brink of adulthood, driven by sex and testosterone. During a wedding, the boys meet Luisa, a sexy 28-year-old "older" woman, and through a whim, invite her to join them on a road trip to a mythical beach called Boca del Cielo (Heaven's Mouth), setting off a journey of seduction, betrayal and encounters with the harsh realities of society and poverty. Closing night film.