Maui festival screens something for everyone
By Christie Wilson
Neighbor Island Editor
|John Corbett, left, and Nia Vardalos star in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," to be screened June 15 at the Maui Film Festival.
Gannett News Service
Maui Film Festival
Various times, places, ticket prices; see listings below
Wednesday through June 16
(808) 579-9244, mauifilmfestival.com
Except instead of a big top, giant poles are being raised to support a 50-foot movie screen with Dolby Digital sound on the South Maui resort's Gold and Emerald golf courses, where up to 2,500 people are expected to enjoy nightly
Celestial Cinema double features during the June 12-16 festival.
The Celestial Cinema is one of five venues that will show 39 feature films and 15 shorts. New this year is the Maui Digital Skydome, a 650-seat outdoor theater at the Outrigger Wailea Resort set up exclusively to screen films shot on digital masters.
Classics such as the 1926 silent movie "Son of the Sheik" starring Rudolph Valentino will be shown free at the SandDance Theater on Wailea Beach, with live piano accompaniment. Screenings also are scheduled for the McCoy and Castle theaters at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center in Kahului.
Rivers is hoping to attract 10,000 movie fans this year. The Wailea festival has become the top act put on by his company, Maui Film Festival Inc., which runs the FirstLight film series in December featuring
Academy Award contenders; "The Big Buzz" weekly Wednesday night screenings of independent and art house flicks at Castle Theater; and the fall "Shorts & Sports Maui International Short Film Festival."
Unlike the FirstLight festival, even well-informed moviegoers may not be familiar with the titles featured during the five-day Wailea event. Many are independent films just recently acquired for distribution.
They include the Sundance hit "Tadpole," with Sigourney Weaver and John Ritter; "The Good Girl," with Jennifer Aniston; "Igby Goes Down," a dark comedy starring Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon and Jeff Goldblum; and the box office sleeper "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," based on a one-woman show by Second City alumna Nia Vardalos.
One of the actors in the movie, John Corbett of TV's "Northern Exposure" and "Sex and the City" will appear at the festival, as will actor and now film director Rosanna Arquette, whose documentary "Searching for Debra Winger" will make its U.S. debut after its world premiere at last month's Cannes Film Festival.
Fans of extreme sports can enjoy a set of surfing flicks that highlight Maui's big-wave riders and the legendary Jaws surf break. There are a number of films with a distinct Asian flavor whose subjects include the Dalai Lama, Ravi Shankar, whirling dervishes, Sherpas and the ancient practice of tantra.
The public also may purchase tickets for the film festival's special events, including the June 14 Silversword Award tribute honoring Hollywood icon and part-time Maui resident Clint Eastwood at the Grand Wailea Resort, and four panels of film industry folks discussing topics from celebrity journalism to digital filmmaking June 15 at the Outrigger Wailea Resort.
Rivers and wife Stella, who plays a key role in Maui Film Festival Inc., select the films for the Wailea event. Their criteria are simple: "We're looking for exemplary filmmaking, whether it's a $10,000 short done on digital or a $100 million studio production," Rivers said.
"This festival is about life-affirming storytelling. There's precious little of it enough to be concerned about where it comes from or how much it cost."
Although Maui Film Festival Inc. has begun to turn a profit from its year-round activities, the Wailea festival is still struggling to make ends meet, Rivers said. The event received $100,000 from the Hawai'i Tourism Authority and has additional support from Maui County, the Wailea Resort and corporate sponsors such as American Express, which sent out notices to 75,000 card holders on the West Coast with a penchant for travel and the arts.
Venues and prices:
- Celestial Cinema, on the slopes of the Wailea Gold and Emerald golf courses double features, with pre-film entertainment. $20 general, $10 kids under 12; $10 for the second film only.
- Maui Digital Skydome, at the Garden Terrace of the Outrigger Wailea Resort. $10.
- Castle Theater and McCoy Theater, Maui Arts & Cultural Center. $10 general, $5 kids under 12.
- SandDance Theater, on Wailea Beach. Free for festival ticket holders and passholders (see below).
- Evening Star: $50 for five films at any $10 venue.
- Rising Star: $100 for admission to all Celestial Cinema double features.
- Shooting Star: $200 for admission to any film, venue, panel.
- Comet: $500 for admission to all special events, films, venues, panels, and a festival T-shirt and cap.
- Opening Night Twilight Reception, 5-7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Fairmont Kea Lani Maui. $40.
- Piper-Hiedseick Silversword Award Tribute to Clint Eastwood, 5-7:15 p.m. June 14 at the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel and Spa. $25.
- Starry, Starry Night Celebration of Cinema, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. June 14 at Tommy Bahama Tropical Cafe. $40.
- Taste of Wailea, 5-7:30 p.m. June 15 at the upper tee of the Wailea Gold and Emerald golf courses. $95, includes June 15 Celestial Cinema double feature.
- Maui Moondance, 10 p.m.-1 a.m. June 15 at Mulligan's on the Blue. $25.
- Taste of Chocolate, 5-7:15 p.m. June 16 at the Shops at Wailea. $30.
- Filmmakers Panels, 9:30 a.m., 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. June 15 at the Kaho'olawe Lawn of the Outrigger Wailea Resort. $10.
- "Ski Bums," 6 p.m., Castle Theater. An extreme tale of 10 free spirits in Whistler, British Columbia.
- "Tadpole," a teenager sets his sights on his stepmom (Sigourney Weaver); preceded by "Strange Invaders," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
- "Strapped: The Origins of Tow-in Surfing," and "Laird," preceded by "The Freak," 8 p.m., Castle Theater.
- "Siddhartha," 10 p.m., Celestial Cinema. New print of the 1972 film.
- "The Man Who Sued God," 5 p.m. Castle Theater. Australian courtroom battle pits insurance companies against the church.
- "The Shaman's Apprentice," an ethnobotanist searches for medicinal plants in the Amazon rainforests; preceded by "Sounds Sacred," 5 p.m., McCoy Theater, repeats 2 p.m. June 15.
- "A Shot at Glory," Scotland, soccer and starring Robert Duvall; preceded by "Gregor's Greatest Invention," 7:30 p.m., Castle Theater.
- "Ram Dass: Fierce Grace," preceded by "Life's Calling" and "The Routine," 7:30 p.m. McCoy Theater, repeats 5 p.m. June 16.
- "Mostly Martha," a chic chef's life is turned upside down by her 8-year-old niece; preceded by "Black Soul," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
- "La Tropical," 8 p.m., Maui Digital Skydome, repeats 7:30 p.m. June 15 at McCoy Theater. Contemporary Cuban life.
- "Searching for Debra Winger," 10 p.m., Celestial Cinema. Actresses talk career nitty gritty.
- "The Return of Draw Egan," 11 p.m., SandDance Theater. 1916 silent film: Former outlaw becomes sheriff of Yellow Dog.
- 35mm Short Film Showcase, 2 p.m., Castle Theater, repeats 2 p.m. June 16.
- "Young Love," 5 p.m., Castle Theater. From Finland, a boy photographs an older neighbor girl and enters the photos in a beauty contest.
- "Resin," verite-style drama about a harmless nobody who fights against the "three strikes" law; preceded by "Up," 5 p.m., McCoy Theater, repeats 9:30 p.m. June 15.
- "Green Dragon," Patrick Swayze and Forest Whitaker star in a series of tales about Vietnamese refugees in U.S. camps, circa 1975; preceded by "Birju," 7:30 p.m., Castle Theater.
- "The Power of Truth: According to the Dalai Lama," preceded by "Jillian's Vantage," 7:30 p.m., McCoy Theater, repeats 2 p.m. June 16.
- "The Good Girl," Jennifer Aniston turns to larceny and love; preceded by "Living with Happiness," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
- "Pleasure & Pain: Ben Harper on Tour," 8 p.m., Maui Digital Skydome.
- "The Chateau," two screwball American boys inherit a French chateau; preceded by "Welfare to Love," 9:30 p.m., Castle Theater.
- "The Tantric Journal," two women from the western world travel to southern India; preceded by "Fiji Firewalkers," 9:30 p.m., McCoy Theater.
- "Unforgiven," 10 p.m., Celestial Cinema. Clint Eastwood's own print of his Oscar-winning drama.
- "The Son of the Sheik," 11 p.m., SandDance Theater. Rudolf Valentino's final film.
- "Last Kiss," 2 p.m., Castle Theater. A pregnancy sets off a series of romantic upheavals among a group of Italian friends and family.
- "La Spagnola," from Australia, a fiery Spanish woman versus a bleak industrial town; preceded by "Gregor's Greatest Invention," 5 p.m., Castle Theater.
- "Ravi Shankar: Between Two Worlds," preceded by "Birju," 5 p.m. McCoy Theatre.
- "Cherish," 7:30 p.m., Castle Theater. Gender bending, romantic thriller: A dotcomer falls for her parole officer.
- "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," the comedic plight of a Greek American girl; preceded by "Gregor's Greatest Invention," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
- "Strapped," "Ski Bums" and "Laird," 8 p.m., Maui Digital Skydome.
- "Bug," 9:30 p.m., Castle Theater. A subtle chain of events link the residents of Silverlake.
- "Cinema Paradiso," 10 p.m., Celestial Cinema. Director's cut of the 1989 film.
- "Show People," 11 p.m., SandDance Theater. Marion Davies stars in this 1928 silent lampoon of Hollywood.
- "Virginia's Run," noon, Castle Theater. A girl and her horse.
- "The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys," 5 p.m., Castle Theatre. Kieran Culkin and Jodie Foster star in a tale of rebellious teens.
- "The Business of Fancydancing," an American Indian poet's fame alienates him from hometown folks; preceded by "Interviews with My Next Girlfriend," 7:30 p.m., Castle Theater.
- "The Ultimate Surf," preceded by "Tower of Babble," 7:30 p.m., McCoy Theater.
- "Igby Goes Down," Kieran Culkin rebels against old-money privilege; also starring Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum; preceded by "Puddlejumper," 8 p.m., Celestial Cinema.
- "Sherpa, Unsung Heroes," 8 p.m., Maui Digital Skydome.
- "The Kid Stays in the Picture," 10 p.m., Celestial Cinema. Based on the autobiography of Hollywood's Robert Evans.