Hawaii International Film Festival

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Hawai‘i International Film Festival
HIFF Logo.jpg
LocationHawaii, United States
No. of films200
Festival dateNovember 4 - November 28, 2021
Current: 41st Hawai‘i International Film Festival

The Hawai‘i International Film Festival (HIFF) is an annual film festival held in the United States state of Hawaii.

HIFF has a focus on Asian-Pacific cinema, education and the work of new and emerging filmmakers.[1] HIFF’s primary festival is held annually in Honolulu over November, with additional screenings and events held across the Hawaiian Islands of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi, Kauaʻi and Maui. The festival also holds a smaller Spring Showcase in March, and runs education and industry events throughout the year.[2]

In 2018, HIFF welcomed over 44,000 attendees.[3]


HIFF was founded in 1981 by Jeannette Paulson Hereniko as a project of the East-West Center located at the University of Hawai'i Manoa campus in Honolulu.[4] Due to this academic association, HIFF prominently featured academic seminars and discussions in its early years, and was delivered free to the public.[5] The relationship between HIFF and the East-West Center ended in 1994.[6] Film critic Roger Ebert had a close personal relationship with the festival and frequently attended prior to his death.[7]

The festival has premiered such movies as A Leading Man, Once Were Warriors, The Piano, Shine, Shall We Dance?, Y Tu Mama Tambien and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.[8]

In 2018, HIFF launched its virtual reality program, with a focus on Asian-Pacific and environmental storytelling.

HIFF celebrated its 40th edition in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic with a hybrid festival combining online video on demand streaming with drive-in theaters and a small number of conventional cinema screenings.[9]


From its early history, HIFF has maintained a programming focus on films from the Asia-Pacific, with an emphasis on new and emerging filmmakers.

  • HIFF Extreme: a program of genre, horror and midnight movies run over the festival.
  • HIFF Virtual Reality: launched in 2018, features a public program of virtual reality and 360-degree video experiences, with a focus on Asian-Pacific content.
  • Made in Hawai’i: a showcase of local short and feature filmmaking from the state of Hawai’i.
  • New American Perspectives: a program of films produced by immigrant filmmakers and artists, produced in partnership with The Vilcek Foundation.
  • Pacific Showcase: a program of films from Pacific Islander filmmakers, produced in partnership with Pacific Islanders in Communication.* Spotlight on China
  • Southeast Asian Showcase
  • Spotlight on Hong Kong: this section often features prominent auteurs and figures from Hong Kong, with honorees such as Wong Kar-wai and John Woo.
  • Spotlight on India
  • Spotlight on Japan: HIFF’s largest program section, with 17 feature films in 2019 ranging from arthouse to mainstream releases.
  • Spotlight on Korea
  • Spotlight on Taiwan


HIFF annually presents a series of prizes for established and emerging filmmakers, announced at its Awards Gala at Halekulani. In addition to its main competitions, the festival also honors filmmakers for special accomplishments and contributions to cinema culture.


HIFF annually honors filmmakers for outstanding contributions to world cinema and the arts. The Halekulani Career Achievement Award is given to filmmakers with an established body of work for significant contributions to the arts.[10] The Halekulani Maverick Award is given to accomplished artists and filmmakers with unconventional career trajectories, often to rising stars of the global film industry.[10] The Pacific Islanders in Communications Trailblazer Award honors a cinema artist of Pacific Islander descent for producing award-winning work in independent and global cinema.[10] In 2020, HIFF introduced the Halekulani Golden Maile for Career Achievement. The first recipient of the Golden Maile was Ann Hui. Previous HIFF honourees include Taika Waititi, Maggie Cheung, Samuel L. Jackson, Sonny Chiba, Ken Watanabe, Wong Kar-Wai, Awkwafina, John Woo, Stan Grant, Steven Yeun, Keala Settle, Destin Daniel Cretton, Sterlin Harjo, Dana Ledoux Miller and Albert Pyun.

Kau Ka Hōkū Award[edit]

The Hawaiian Airlines Kau Ka Hōkū award is HIFF’s main competitive prize, and is awarded to emerging filmmakers for their first or second feature film by an international jury.

Year Film Director
2021[11] DARK RED FOREST Jin Huaqing

Made in Hawai‘i Film Awards[edit]

The Made in Hawai‘i Film Awards is presented by the Hawaii Film Office for feature and short films produced by local filmmakers.

Year Film Director
1990 My Aunt May Roland Tharpe
1991 Hawai'i: Beyond the Feathered Gods Paul Atkins
1992 Simple Courage Stephanie Castillo
1993 From Hawai'i to the Holocaust Judy Weightman / Ryan Sexton
1994 Ganbare Robert Bates
1995 Words, Earth and Aloha Eddie Kamae
1996 Lemon Tree Billiards House Tim Savage
1997 E Ola Ka 'Olelo Hawai'i Na Maka O Ka 'Aina
1998 Kaho'olawe David Kalama, Jr
1999 Red Turtle Rising Jay April
2000 Ka'ililauokekoa Kala'iokona Ontai
2001 Blood of the Samurai Aaron Yamasato
2003 The Ride Nathan Kurosawa
2004 Silent Years James Sereno
2005 Fishbowl Kayo Hatta
2006 Na Kamalei: Men of Hula Lisette Marie Flannery
2018 Bethany Hamilton: Unstoppable Aaron Lieber Made in Hawaii Audience Award
2018 The Moon and The Night Erin Lau Made in Hawaii Best Short
2019 Moloka‘i Bound Alika Maikau Made in Hawaii Best Short
2019 Down on the Sidewalk in Waikiki Justyn Ah Chong Made in Hawaii Best Short, Second Place
2020 Hawaiian Soul ‘Āina Paikai Best Short + Audience Award Short
2020 Waikiki Chris Kahunahana Best Feature + Best Cinematography
2021[12] River of Small Gods Bradley Tangonan Best Short
2021[13] I Was a Simple Man Christopher Makoto Yogi Best Feature

NETPAC Award[edit]

Since 2000, HIFF has partnered with the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema to deliver the NETPAC Award for outstanding filmmaking in Asia, and is the only film festival in the United States to present the award.[14]

Year Film Director Country
2000 Breaking the Silence Sun Zhou China
2001 Devils on the Doorstep Jiang Wen China
2002 Eyes of a Beauty Guan Hu China
2004 Peep "TV" Show Yutaka Tsuchiya Japan
2005 Season of the Horse Ning Cai China
2006 4:30 Royston Tan Singapore
2007 Owl and the Sparrow Stephane Gauger Vietnam
2008 Brutus - The Adventure Tara Illenberger Philippines
2009 Castaway on the Moon' Lee Hae-jun South Korea
2010 Monga Doze Chen-Zer Niu Taiwan ROC
2011 Hanaan Ruslan Pak South Korea, Uzbekistan
2012 Aparisyon (Apparition) Isabel Sandoval (credited as Vincent Sandoval) Philippines
2013 Monsoon Shootout Amit Kumar India
2014 Titli Kanu Behl India
2015 The Kids Sunny Yu Taiwan
2016 Knife in the Clear Water Wan Xuebo China
2017 One Thousand Ropes Tusi Tamasese New Zealand
2018 Still Human Oliver Siu Kuen Chan Hong Kong
2019 Another Child Yoon-Seok Kim South Korea
2021[15] Anima Cao Jinling China

New American Perspectives (NAP)[edit]

From 2007 to 2015, HIFF partnered with the Vilcek Foundation to curate the New American Filmmakers (NAF) program to celebrate the work of foreign-born filmmakers and cinema artists currently contributing to American cinema.[16] In 2019, this program was relaunched as the New American Perspectives (NAP).

Year Film Delegate Country of Birth
2007 Owl and the Sparrow Stephane Gauger (Director) Vietnam
2007 Finishing the Game Justin Lin (Director) Taiwan
2007 The Rebel Charlie Nguyen (Director) Vietnam
2007 The GateKeeper of Enmyoin Reiko Tahara (Director) Japan
2007 Max Uesugi (Director) Japan
2008 Chief '(Short Film) Chief Sielu Avea (Actor) Samoa
2008 Long Story Short Christine Choy (Director) China
2008 Vietnam Overtures Stephane Gauger (Director) Vietnam
2008 Prince of the Himalayas Sherwood Hu (Director) China
2008 Someplace Else Kai-Duc Luong (Director) Cambodia
2008 Ocean of Pearls Sarab Neelam (Director) India
2009 A Village Called Versailles S. Leo Chiang (Director) Taiwan
2009 Prince of Broadway Karren Karagulian (Actor) Armenia
2009 The People I've Slept With Quentin Lee (Director) Hong Kong
2009 Bombay Summer Joseph Mathew-Varghese (Director) India
2009 White on Rice Hiroshi Watanabe (Actor) Japan
2010 Dog Sweat Hossein Keshavarz (Director) Iran
2010 Au Revoir Taipei In-Ah Lee (Producer) Germany
2010 Apart Together Lisa Lu (Actress) Chinese-American
2010 Beijing Taxi Miao Wang (Director) China
2011 The Price of Sex Mimi Chakarova (Director) Bulgarian-American
2011 Living in Seduced Circumstances Ian Gamazon (Director) Filipino-American
2011 Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul Nadia Hennirch (Screenwriter) Germany
2011 Almost Perfect Bertha Bay-Sa Pan (Director) Taiwanese-American
2011 My Last Day Without You Christopher Silber (Screenwriter) Germany
2012 Valley of Saints Nicholas Bruckman (Producer) England
2012 Indian Summer (Short Film) Mridu Chandra (Director) Indian-American
2012 Starlet Radium Cheung (Cinematographer) Hong Kong
2012 Paraiso (Short Film) Ronan Landa (Composer) Israeli-American
2012 Daylight Savings Goh Nakamura (Actor) Japanese-American
2012 The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus Alexandre O. Philippe (Director) Switzerland
2013 Mr. Pip Andrew Adamson (Director) New Zealand
2013 Harry Gregson-Williams (Composer) England
2013 Escape from Tomorrow Soojin Chung (Producer) South Korea
2013 I Learn America Jean-Michel Dissard (Director) France
2013 This is Martin Bonner Chad Hartigan (Director) Cyprus
2013 Sake-Bomb Junya Sakino (Director) Japan
2014 The Artist Antoine de Cazotte (Producer) France
2014 A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Ana Lily Amirpour (Director) Iranian-American
2014 Man from Reno Ayako Fujitani (Actress) Japan
2014 Difret Zeresenay Mehari (Director) Ethiopia
2014 Nuoc 2030 Minh Nguyen-Võ (Director) Vietnam
2014 Uzumasa Limelight Ken Ochiai (Director) Japan
2014 Mudbloods Farzad Sangari (Director) Iran
2015 Camino Zoë Bell (Actress) New Zealand
2015 Margarita, with a Straw Shonali Bose (Director) India
2015 Yosemite Gabrielle Demeestere (Director) France
2015 Spellbound Alfred Hitchcock (Director) England
2015 Seoul Searching Daniel Katz (Cinematographer) Ireland
2015 Seoul Searching Benson Lee (Director) Korean-American
2015 People are the Sky Dai Sil Kim-Gibson (Director) North Korea
2019 The Perfect Candidate Haifaa al-Mansour (Director) Saudi Arabia
2019 Asian in America Jenny Dorsey (Chef) China
2019 Go Back to China Emily Ting (Director) Taiwan
2019 Lingua Franca Isabel Sandoval (Director and Actor) Philippines
2019 37 Seconds Hikari (Director) Japan
2020 Shadow in the Cloud Roseanne Liang (Director) New Zealand
2020 76 Days Hao Wu (Director) China
2020 Death of Nintendo Valarie Castillo-Martinez (Screenwriter, Producer) Philippines
2020 First Vote Yi Chen (Director) China
2020 Mogul Mowgli Bassam Tariq (Screenwriter, Director) Pakistan
2021 7 DAYS Roshan Sethi (Co-writer, Director) Canada
2021 7 DAYS Karan Soni (Co-writer, Actor) India
2021 7 DAYS Geraldine Viswanathan (Actor) Australia
2021 AMERICANISH Aizzah Fatima (Co-writer, Actor) Saudi Arabia
2021 RED ROCKET Shih-Ching Tsou (Producer) Taiwan
2021 WOODLANDS DARK AND DAYS BEWITCHED Kier-La Janisse (Director) Canada
2021 USERS Natalia Almada (Director) Mexico

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "ALOHAFEST COMES INTO ITS OWN". rogerebert.com. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  2. ^ "22nd Annual HIFF Spring Showcase". Honolulu Magazine. Aio Media Group. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  3. ^ "HIFF Annual Report (2018)". hiff.org. Hawai'i International Film Festival.
  4. ^ "About HIFF". Hawai'i International Film Festival. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  5. ^ "When Strangers Met: How the East-West Center Library Introduced International Film to Hawaii". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  6. ^ "When Strangers Met: How the East-West Center Library Introduced International Film to Hawaii" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 22, 2006. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  7. ^ "MAHALO, ROGER!: THE HAWAIIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROGER". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  8. ^ Lincoln Jacobe. "Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival Announces 2008 Audience Winners". Archived from the original on July 19, 2009.
  9. ^ "Download the HIFF40 Program Guide". HIFF. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  10. ^ a b c 2018 HIFF Program Guide. Honolulu: Hawai'i International Film Festival. November 2018. p. 3.
  11. ^ "HIFF41 Announces Festival Award Winners | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 15 November 2021.
  12. ^ "HIFF41 Announces Festival Award Winners | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 15 November 2021.
  13. ^ "HIFF41 Announces Festival Award Winners | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 15 November 2021.
  14. ^ "HIFF 2019 Awards". Hawai'i International Film Festival. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  15. ^ "HIFF41 Announces Festival Award Winners | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 15 November 2021.
  16. ^ "The Vilcek Foundation - New American Filmmakers - Hawaii International Film Festival". Vilcek.org. Retrieved May 22, 2018.

External links[edit]