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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, April 16, 2010

Kaiulani film quietly sheds controversial title

By Dave Dondoneau
TGIF Editor

Hawaii news photo - The Honolulu Advertiser

Metallica lead singer James Hetfield, left, with Sammy Hagar on Maui last week.

BAMP Project

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With little fanfare, the controversial title of the film about Princess Ka'iulani's life that screened at HIFF last year has been changed to "Princess Ka'iulani," and is tentatively set to show again at Kahala 8 and across the U.S. in mid-May.

It screened here amid protests as "Barbarian Princess" and ended up taking home the festival's audience award.

The title change is a bit surprising. Even HIFF executive director Chuck Boller said he didn't hear about the name change until recently.

"I'm not sure why they changed it back,"Boller said. "It did really well when it screened here."

HIFF's Spring Showcase opens today (see pages 21-22) and comes on the heels of a 12 percent increase in ticket sales (about 78,500) for HIFF's fall showcase. Boller credits a stronger movie lineup and a growing festival reputation for the increase.

"We're one of just 20 festivals in the world where films can be nominated for Golden Globes, and that makes us more appealing to moviemakers, "Boller said. "I remember a few years ago we had to convince the makers of 'Departures' that the audience here would get the Japanese culture and what the movie was about. It turned out that we had the only U.S. screening for a remarkable film that went on to win an Oscar for best foreign film.

"The exposure it got here helped it immensely, and the director has been so gracious about giving us credit.Now we're getting a lot more Japanese film submissions."

One myth HIFF officials want to dispel is that the festival is more of a Pacific Rim showcase. One way it is strutting its international flavor is by landing films such as the Scandinavian blockbuster "Girl with the Dragon Tattoo," which shows at 9 p.m. tomorrow. Boller said he is hoping that getting it here for one showing this weekend will lead to landing the next two films in the trilogy when they're released, possibly before HIFF's fall showcase.

"That would be ideal," Boller said.

While HIFF's numbers are up, concert-going seems to be declining. The first 311 concert at Pipeline Café last week was maybe half full, and the second didn't sell out. 311, with songs such as "Amber," would seem to be a perfect fit for O'ahu, so the lack of turnout is puzzling. Trumpeter Chris Botti's show at Blaisdell Concert Hall didn't sell out last week, either.

It will be interesting to see how tomorrow's Pipeline Café concert featuring Sammy Hagar and the Wabos does, as well as Julio Iglesias' concert tomorrow at Blaisdell Concert Hall.

Hagar's Maui show was reportedly excellent. It was also attended by Metallica lead singer James Hetfield. who stopped in to visit with Hagar, the former Van Halen frontman-turned-tequila king. Hagar, in case you didn't know, founded Cabo Wabo Tequila and still retains 20 percent of the tasty treat.

Don't miss tonight's final round of the Battle of the Bands, pitting Phoenix Rose against Friends of Adam at Hard Rock Cafe. The winner could get a chance to join Paul McCartney and Pearl Jam on stage later this year.