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Hawai Fest: a first glimpse on the fall line up

The 27th Annual Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF), the premier international film event in the Pacific, is set for October 18 – 28 on Oahu. More than 150 feature films, documentaries, shorts and animations, representing countries from around the world will be showcased.

HIFF is the centerpiece event in Hawaii where thousands of people from around the world, top celebrities from Asia and the United States, award-winning filmmakers and directors, and the US and foreign press come together for a celebration of cinema for 11 days.

“The Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival is one of the most relevant international film festivals, leading all others with its discovery and exhibition of Asian and Pacific films and documentaries,” says Executive Director Chuck Boller. “In addition to the great film line-up, for 2007 we have created more opportunities to interact and meet the celebrities through a mix of public and private events.”

The festival starts on October 18 with an Opening Night event at the Halekulani followed by the Opening Night Movie (TBD) at the historic Hawaii Theatre. Films will be shown through out the festival at the Regal Cinemas at Dole Cannery and there will be movies shown outside on the famous Waikiki beach. Private and public events, award shows, press conferences and special movie showings take place continuously during the festival.

HIFF programmers are busy assembling one of the festival’s best programs in years, including a FOCUS ON TAIWANESE CINEMA, a sidebar of Korean documentaries and a section aptly titled EAT, DRINK, FILM. Here is a sneak peek at some confirmed titles:

FILM SYNOPSES:

A TOUCH OF SPICE (GREECE/TURKEY)
Boasting eight National Film Awards in Greece and the Audience Award at the Thessaloniki Film Festival, this film is about Fanis, who goes back to his childhood home and deals with his relationship with his beloved grandfather, the pain of being thrown out of Turkey at an early age, and the difficulties he faced in Greece. Part of EAT, DRINK, FILM.

ALL IN THIS TEA (USA)
Filmmaker Les Bank (Burden of Dreams, Gap-Toothed Women) partners with first-time director Gina Leibrecht in this documentary showing a voyage of discovery through the exploration into the world of tea, as seen mostly through the eyes of American tea expert and merchant David Lee Hoffman as he travels through China. Part of EAT, DRINK, FILM.

HOW TO COOK YOUR LIFE (GERMANY)
Multi award-winning actress, Doris Doerrie turns her attention to Buddhism and that age-old saying, you are what you eat. In this documentary, Doerrie enlists the help of the charismatic Zen Master Edward Espe Brown to explain the guiding principles of Zen Buddhism as they apply to the preparation of food as well as life itself. Part of EAT, DRINK, FILM.

KAMOME’S DINER (JAPAN)
This is a heartwarming story about a small Japanese restaurant that opens in Finland called Kamome’s Diner, and tells a contented story of people who are true to themselves, spending humble days. Masako Motai’s role in this film earned her a nomination as Best Supporting Actress at the 2007 Awards of the Japanese Academy. Part of EAT, DRINK, FILM.

YAKINIKU: THE MOVIE (JAPAN)
After the success of “Udon” (which was shown at the HIFF Spring Fest in April), another food movie is here - this time, a loving hymn to the joys of Korean barbecue. Former CanCam model Yu Yamada joins Ryuhei Matsuda and Arata in a movie about two chefs vying for the crown on a nationwide yakiniku TV show. Part of EAT, DRINK, FILM.

DAI NIPPON JIN (JAPAN)
Popular comedian Hitoshi Matsumoto stars and directs this comedy about Dai Sato, who leads a dull, routine life, thus continuing a family tradition. Hitoshi, or Matchan as he is known in Japan, is best known as the other half of the popular duo Downtown with Masatoshi Hamada on the show “Hey! Hey! Hey!”, one of Japan’s top music variety shows.

DARK MATTER
Meryl Streep, Aidan Quinn and Ye Liu star in this Sundance Film Festival winner based on actual events of Liu Xing, a Chinese science student pursuing a Ph.D. in the U.S. in the early 1990s. Driven by ambition, yet unable to navigate academic politics, Liu Xing is inexorably pushed to the margins of American life and responds violently when his chances for a Nobel Prize are dashed by school politics.

EYE IN THE SKY (HONG KONG)
“Eye in the Sky” refers to how both ordinary people as well as those with criminal intent can be observed with modern technology. In Chinese, this concept also refers to a form of divine intervention. In this film, a crack squad from the Criminal Intelligence Bureau uses surveillance equipment to track the ultra-professional criminal gang led by mastermind Shan (award-winning actor Tony Leung Ka Fai).

FINISHING THE GAME (USA)
Director Justin Lin (Better Luck Tomorrow, The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift) returns to his roots with this film, a rollicking comedy spoof about the egregiously exploitative search for Bruce Lee’s stand-in after Bruce Lee dies suddenly leaving behind stunned fans and a legacy of 12 minutes from his unfinished film “Game of Death.”

GETTING HOME (HONG KONG/CHINA)
Directed by award-winning director Zhang Yang (Xiang ri kui, Zuotian, Xizao), this tragicomic odyssey is a winner at the Berlin International Film Festival. Based on a true story, Zhao, in keeping to a promise, travels thousands of miles across China to bring the body of his friend home and faces a world of rapidly changing values.

THE HOME SONG STORIES (AUSTRALIA)
Chinese superstar Joan Chen stars in this story about Rose, a Shanghai nightclub singer who struggles to make living in Australia with her two young children. Set in the 1970’s, this tale is based on writer/director Tony Ayres’ own life.

JUMP! (USA)
The era of playground rhymes has given way to one of somersaults, back flips, handstands, and other gravity-defying gymnastics, all done in the center of one or more whirling, twirling jump ropes. Helen Hood Scheer's documentary shows the energy of the sport as she shows six teams preparing for the USA Jump Rope Nationals.

THE MAN FROM LONDON (HUNGARY/GERMANY/FRANCE)
Award-winning writer/director Bela Tarr, creates this story of Maloin, who leads a simple life barely noticing the world around him. When he becomes a witness to a murder, his life takes a sudden turn.

NANKING (CHINA)
Woody Harrelson and Stephen Dorff star in this controversial film about the rape of Nanking, when the Japanese army murdered over 200,000 and raped tens of thousands of Chinese during WWII. A group of westerners band together and save 250,000 Chinese.

OH-OKU (JAPAN)
Yukie Nakama leads a huge all-star cast in this film that revolves around the Ejima-Ikushima affair of 1714 and the legendary power struggle between child Shogun Ietsugu Tokugawa’s natural mother – concubine to the previous Shogun – and his official wife, who must watch her stake in the bloodline fade.

OWL AND THE SPARROW (VIETNAM/USA)
In modern-day Saigon, a ten-year old orphan plays matchmaker to a zookeeper and a beautiful flight attendant in the hopes of forming a surrogate family. It is the winner of the Audience Award at the Los Angeles Film Festival and Best Narrative Feature at the San Francisco International Asian American film Festival.

PLOY (THAILAND)
Award-winning writer/director Pen-Ek Ratanaruang, creates this is highly detailed psychological drama of three strangers locked inside a hotel room. It starts with subtle suspicions and builds to hilarious jealousy, as a young woman triggers a couple to suddenly realize how they had grown apart in their marriage.

SOO (SOUTH KOREA)
Based on a comic by Shin Young Woo, Sai Yoichi (Blood and Bone) directs this story about twin brothers (both played by Ji Jin Hee) who grow up in the street together until they get separated, lead very different lives, and then one brother, to avenge the other’s death, takes on the other’s identity to track down the murderer.

TAXI TO THE DARKSIDE (US)
Writer and Director Alex Gibney shows the audience an in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

VIRGIN SNOW (JAPAN)
Directed by Han Sang Hee and starring Lee Jun Ki and Miyazaki Aoi, this is the love story of high school student Min, who follows his father to Kyoto and falls in love with Nanae despite the language and cultural barrier.

WEST 32ND (USA/SOUTH KOREA)
Written and directed by award-winning writer and director Michael Kang, this film delves inside New York's gritty Korean underworld. After hustling his way onto a homicide case, attorney John Kim (John Cho) finds himself thrust into a sordid world of hard realities and moral compromises.

YEAR OF THE FISH (USA)
This animated film (winner at the Boston Independent Film Festival and Avignon Film Festival,) written and directed by David Kaplan, is a modern-day adaptation of Cinderella based on an old Chinese version of the story. The film features a first-rate Asian ensemble cast including Tsai Chin (The Joy Luck Club), acclaimed Broadway veteran Randall Duk Kim, and Ken Leung (X-Men 3, Rush Hour).


As with most major film festivals in the world, many celebrities from around the world are making their plans to be in Hawaii during the festival to either support their films, to receive a Hawaii International Film Festival Award or to just enjoy a Hawaiian vacation. The festival continues to be a strong draw for celebrities and filmmakers from around the world. Previous attendees include Samuel Jackson and Kevin Smith from the US, Ken Watanabe from Japan, and Lee Byung-Hun, Shin Hyun-Jun and Ha Ji-Won from Korea.
There are many opportunities for visitors of the festival to meet and interact with celebrities from around the world. Celebrity events take place at various locations such as high-end retail stores, restaurants and various HIFF locations throughout Oahu.

For more information on the festival, individual tickets and ticket package pricing, film line-up, and who will be coming to Hawaii, continue to visit the HIFF website at www.hiff.org for the latest updates.

Filled with insight and discovery, HIFF is dedicated to advancing understanding and cultural exchange among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and North America since 1981. Each year, more than 70,000 attendees throughout Hawaii viscerally experience the sounds and images of filmmaking from around the world.

HIFF is the premiere international film event in the Pacific and has won the praise of governments, filmmakers, scholars, educators, programmers and film industry leaders throughout the world. It is also the primary source for the discovery and exhibition of Asian and Pacific feature films, documentaries and videos in the nation. The festival has premiered such movies as CROUCHING TIGER HIDDEN DRAGON, ONCE WERE WARRIORS, THE PIANO, SHINE, SHALL WE DANCE, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, VOLVER, BABEL, THE HOST, JOINT SECURITY AREA and TWILIGHT SAMURAI.

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