Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Joy of HIFF(Hawaii International Film Festival)!

As an aspiring writer/storyteller/filmmaker, I'm sure those of you with similar tastes and interests can relate to the joy that I get when a great film festival rolls into town.Film festivals for me and other like minded individuals are akin to what the Tokyo Game Show is to gamers and ComicCon is to geeks & cosplayers, that is a celebration of the things they stand for!

For the past 2-3 years, I've slowly but surely come to enjoy and looking forward to the Hawaii International Film Festival(HIFF) which is held twice a year and whose main event is at the Regal Dole Cannery Theater on Oahu, with limited screenings featured at other theaters on the island and on Kauai & The Big Island.The very first HIFF I attended, I saw the rebooted/re-imagined Neon Genesis Evangelion movie, Evangelion 2.0.To say that I was blown away by the nicely re-done visuals and seeing the series re-born on the big screen is an understatement!But even better yet was seeing it with an audience that is not just there to be entertained by whatever happened to be playing at the local multiplex but one that has a passion for these types of films, Japanese animation in particular.The mood & scene was electrifying as you could feel the joy of hundreds of Evangelion/anime fans getting engrossed by the awesome story that was being re-born for a new generation of fans to discover.

In subsequent years, I then saw a martial arts film, Bangkok Knockout, which was equally awesome.The same electrifying and awesome mood that I felt at the Evangelion movie was present at this screening too.You just can't beat the feeling of being in the same auditorium with fans of a genre or storytelling and filmmaking.Even better though is when certain screenings feature the filmmakers in-person and presenting their labour of love.This to me epitomizes what has been lost with film & movies as it's become much more mainstream and a part of most cultures.

It is both good and bad that filmmaking & producing films is so accessible to the majority of people out there.Nowadays, since the tools are out there which include the equipment such as cameras and computers and the software used to edit, more stories are being told and brought to the big screen.In addition, there are also a lot more theaters out there which screen a wider variety of movies.Even smaller budget productions and more genre-ish films & movies tend to make it onto the big screen in most cities today.However, this has also lead to a bit of a dilution of sorts and has slowly but surely eroded away what makes movies seem so magic and "special".Nowadays, most studios and theaters are more concerned with building a franchise that can be milked endlessly until the audience is sick of watching anything new to do with it.The end result is that there are technically great movies with decent storylines and visual effects but they've also become more cookie cutter and "safe".This is where the film festival comes in.

At most film festivals, the emphasis is placed on connecting the audience(s) with new stories and films that seek to engage on a deeper level.Also, they tend to emphasize on re-connecting the filmmakers and storytellers with their audience which I feel is very important in order to make something great.As I mentioned before, most film & movie production today is very mechanical and with minimal passion.There are still great filmmakers and storytellers out there that care about creating elaborate stories and works of fiction/non-fiction but there is still a great deal of disconnection between them and the audience.It is always a great privilege to see a film or movie by a young or new director/storyteller that has moxy and excited about engaging their audience.It is equally great to listen to them talk at their screening about the process they went through in making their film and really connecting with the audience and presenting their labour of love.

At this year's Fall 2013 HIFF, I am seeing 13 movies total which is the most I've seen in any season.Some people think I'm a little crazy and wonder how I find the time but at the same token I make the time.Like I mentioned earlier, there is no greater joy than seeing a truly engaging film that connects with its fans & audience as well as a filmmaker and their production team presenting their labour of love.Even if the film or movie turns out to be a bit of disappointment, most times it's still worth seeing and watching since it is at the festivals that truly groundbreaking and newer & edgier stuff is seen.And that's the whole point of a film festival, to re-connect everyone with the magic of film & movies and to continue pushing the envelope so that the art of storytelling in this visual medium doesn't just disappear and die out.

I hope you all get to see at least a good handful of films and movies at a film festival near you so that you can appreciate the medium as much as I do!
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