Cinema Paradise fest showcases nearly 100 indies
By Wayne Harada
Advertiser Entertainment Writer
Independent films big and small a few titles shy of 100 will unreel in the 2003 Cinema Paradise, set for Sept. 19 to 25 at the Art House at Restaurant Row. Themes flip-flop from martial arts wizardry to a documentary of a bus hostage situation, from surfing to skateboarding, from cockfighting to the age-old battle of the sexes.
Organizer Sergio Goes, himself a photographer-turned-filmmaker of cutting-edge films, said the festival "is inspired by what's happening around us." And because the programs will show in the Art House's two largest theaters, "there's indication we're growing, slowly but surely."
The festival, in its second season, mirrors Goes' Brazilian roots, with the addition of a Cinema Brasil section showcasing films in Portuguese from Brazil, and his awareness and radar of Island customs and lifestyles.
Some films also reflect Hawai'i life, now and then, with homages to surf culture (Beyond the Reef, with four titles), the once-huge craze of Asian martial arts films (Black Belt Theater, which propels the latest Shaw Brothers flick from Hong Kong, among others, into action) and the controversial theme of cockfighting (Island Visions).
A local filmmaker will earn a $5,000 prize the Island Visions Hawaiian Filmmaker Award at the conclusion of the event.
Of 30 entries, 10 will be shown, and four are vying for the local laurel. Dramatic and documentary films, plus shorts and animated works, also will compete for prizes.
A preview of Cinema Paradise will be held at Transformation, a pre-festival multimedia fund-raiser, tonight at Studio 1, on North King Street.
In addition to the weeklong screenings, visiting filmmakers will present panels and workshops, some involving artists and musical artists.
The festival attracted about 500 entries from around the world.
Goes, who relocated with his family to Hawai'i after spending time in New York, hand-picked a few films. "In addition to the entries, I pursued some titles on my own, looking at what's out there."
He said the range of dramatic features and documentaries nicely complements the experimental entries, "which are pretty funky we always like to have that element."
The opening-night feature will be "What Alice Found," a U.S. film by A. Dean Bell, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival. Described as digital storytelling at its best, the film stars Emily Grace as Alice, who is faced with a dreary small-town existence, who attempts to reinvent herself from a grocery cashier into a marine biologist in a journey from New Hampshire to Florida.
The closing-night feature will be "The Shape of Things," a U.S. film by Neil LaBute, which is about the war between the sexes told in a brilliant, theatrical style. LaBute earlier directed "In the Company of Men" and "Your Friends and Neighbors."
A centerpiece film will be "Madame Sata," a film from Brazil directed by Karim Ainouz, about a devoted father of seven adopted children, with a complex and sordid past and present as a criminal, a homosexual, a cabaret star, a killer in based-on-fact tale of desperate dreams emerging from poverty and squalor.
Among other highlights:
"Bus 174," a Brazilian documentary by Jose Padilha about a young man who boarded a bus in Rio de Janeiro on June 14, 2000, intending to rob the passengers. A hostage situation resulted, which was broadcast on local TV for 4 1/2 hours, and became known as the Bus 174 Affair. In the retelling, the perpetrator becomes the victim.
"Drunken Monkey," a China entry directed by Lau Kar Leung, re-exploring the martial-arts technique of the Shaw Brothers, who re-enter the movie-making business with this action film starring Master Lau, Gordon Liu Chia-hu, Shannon Yao and the prerequisite kung fu choreography.
"Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator," a documentary by Helen Stickler, about Mark "Gator" Rogowski, skateboard superstar of the 1980s who now is serving a 31-year prison sentence after he confessed to a shocking and violent crime.
- A festival of nearly 100 independent films
- Sept. 19-25
- The Art House at Restaurant Row
- 526-4171; cinemaparadise.org
- Also: "Transformation," a pre-festival fund-raiser, from 6 to 9 p.m. today, Studio 1, at 1 N. King St. Featuring film previews, video, deejay music; free. Party 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. for those 21 and older, $10.
A sample listing of Cinema Paradise films, by categories:
- "Madame Sata," Brazil
- "Drunken Monkey," China
- "What Alice Found," U.S.
- "The Shape of Things," U.S.
- "Bus 174," Brazil
- "Five Sides of a Coin," U.S.
- "Stoked: The Rise and Fall of Gator," U.S.
- "Direct Order," U.S.
- "Return to Kandahar," Canada
Black Belt Theater
- "Kung Phooey," U.S.
- "Shaolin Ulysses: Kung Fu Monks in America," U.S. Cinema Brasil
- "Dada," Brazil
- "On the Fringes of Sao Paulo: Homeless," Brazil
Beyond the Reef
- "A Common Thread," Hawai'i.
- "Nihi, a Biography of Titus Nihi Kinimaka," Hawai'i
- "Cockfighters: The Short Film & Interviews," Hawai'i
- "The Songbird of Puna: Auntie Becky Pau," Hawai'i
- "Kamehameha," Hawai'i
- "Eternal Sleep"
- "The Displacement Map: A Documentary in Four Movements," U.S.
- "Dear Sweet Emma," U.S.
- "Roof Sex," U.S.
- "Tomato Love," U.S.