Hawaii International Film Festival

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Hawai'i International Film Festival
LocationHawaii, United States
Founded byJeannette Paulson Hereniko
DirectorsBeckie Stocchetti
Artistic directorAnderson Le
No. of films200
Festival dateEvery year, during Fall
Current: 43rd Annual Hawai'i International Film Festival Presented by Halekulani

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]

The Hawai'i International Film Festival (HIFF) has earned the distinction of being the nation's preeminent source of discovery and exhibition of Native Hawaiian and Asian-Pacific cinema and new media. HIFF is the only statewide film festival in the United States, and the only Academy Award Qualifying film festival with a focus on Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander content. HIFF's mission is two-fold: to bring the best in international cinema to Hawai'i, and to advance the understanding and cultural exchange among the people of Asia, the Pacific, and North America through the medium of film. HIFF also presents educational content including panels and workshops in the fields of film, music, technology, and media.[4]


HIFF was founded in 1981 by Jeannette Paulson Hereniko as a project of the East-West Center located at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa campus in Honolulu.[5] Due to this academic association, HIFF prominently featured academic seminars and discussions in its early years, and was delivered free to the public.[6] The relationship between HIFF and the East-West Center ended in 1994.[7] Film critic Roger Ebert had a close personal relationship with the festival and frequently attended before his death.[8]

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.[9]

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.[10]

In 2022, HIFF held its 42nd annual Fall Festival which drew in over 52,000 viewers to 276 films from 37 countries. Adding to the Festival's international prominence were 178 filmmakers, actors, critics, and film industry professionals from throughout the world. These delegates participated in post-screening discussions, special events, and free educational programs. Since its inception, HIFF has benefited more than 1.6 million people.[4]


From its early history, HIFF has maintained a programming focus on films from the Asia-Pacific, with an emphasis on new and emerging filmmakers: Documentary Panorama, Eat. Drink. Film., Film For Thought, Filmmaker In Focus, Green Screen, HIFF Extreme, Indigenous Lens, Made in Hawai'i, New American Perspectives, Next Wave Asia, Opening Night Film, Pacific Showcase, Panorama, Spotlight on China, Spotlight on Hong Kong, Spotlight on Japan, Spotlight on Korea, Spotlight on Taiwan[3]

  • Made in Hawaiʻi: a showcase of local short and feature filmmaking from the state of Hawaiʻi.
  • 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.*
  • 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.


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.[11] The Halekulani Maverick Award is given to accomplished artists and filmmakers with unconventional career trajectories, often to rising stars of the global film industry.[11] 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.[11] In 2020, HIFF introduced the Halekulani Golden Maile for Career Achievement. The first recipient of the Golden Maile was Ann Hui.

Previous HIFF honorees include Taika Waititi, Maggie Cheung, Samuel L. Jackson, Sonny Chiba, Ken Watanabe, Joan Chen, Wong Kar-Wai, Awkwafina, Moon So-ri, Heperi Mita, Rachel Brosnahan, John Woo, Stan Grant, Steven Yeun, Randall Park, Elisabeth Moss, Keala Settle, Lana Condor, Jason Scott Lee, Destin Daniel Cretton, Sterlin Harjo, Dana Ledoux Miller, Albert Pyun, Dave Filoni, Hirokazu Kore-eda, Jung Woo-Sung, Josie Ho and Auliʻi Cravalho.

In 2022, HIFF awarded festival founder, Jeannette Paulson Hereniko with the inaugural HIFF Legacy Award for her lifetime of dedication and contributions to film and cinema in Hawaiʻi and many film festivals around the world.

Kau Ka Hōkū Award[edit]

The Hawaiian Airlines Kau Ka Hōkū (Shooting Star) award is HIFF's main competitive prize and is awarded to emerging filmmakers for their first or second feature film by an international jury. Both fiction and non-fiction feature films are nominated by the festival programmers and adjudicated by an international jury.

Year Film Director
2021[12] DARK RED FOREST Jin Huaqing
2022[13] BAD AXE David Siev
2023[14] ASOG Seán Devlin

Made in Hawaiʻi Film Awards[edit]

The Made in Hawaiʻi Film Awards is presented by the Nichols Family Fund and Hawaii Film Office for feature and short films produced by local filmmakers.

Year Film Director
1990 My Aunt May Roland Tharpe
1991 Hawaiʻi: Beyond the Feathered Gods Paul Atkins
1992 Simple Courage Stephanie Castillo
1993 From Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaiʻi 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[12] I Was a Simple Man Christopher Makoto Yogi Best Feature
2022[15] The Wind & the Reckoning David L. Cunningham Best Feature
2022[15] Inheritance Erin Lau Best Short
2022 Pōʻele Wai (Dark Water / As the Water Darkens) Tiare Ribeaux Honorable Mention (Short Film)
2023[14] AIKĀNE Daniel Sousa, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson Best Short
2023[14] MY PARTNER Keli'i Grace Honorable Mention (Feature)

Shorts Jury Awards[edit]

Recipients of HIFF's Best Short Film Award and HIFF's Best Made in Hawai'i Short Film Award are eligible for consideration in the Animated Short Film/Live Action Short Film category of the Academy AwardsⓇ in the concurrent season, without the standard theatrical run and provided the films comply with Academy rules.[16]

Year Film Director Award
2022 THE RED SUITCASE Cyrus Neshvad HIFF Best Short Film Award[17]
2022 KUMU NIU Alex Cantatore Deep Blue Environmental Shorts Award[17]
2023[14] CLOSING DYNASTY Lloyd Lee Choi HIFF Best Short Film Award
2023[14] SPEAR, SPATULA, SUBMARINE: FLORIDIANS FIGHT TO TAKE BACK THEIR WATERS Shannon Morrall Deep Blue Environmental Shorts Award

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.[18]

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[12] Anima Cao Jinling China
2022[15] KAĪNGA Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, Nahyeon Lee, Angeline Loo, HASH (Hash Perambalam), Asuka Sylvie, Yamin Tun, Julie Zhu, Michelle Ang Aotearoa New Zealand
2023[14] IF ONLY I COULD HIBERNATE Zoljargal Purevdashi France, Mongolia

Pasifika Award[edit]

In 2022, HIFF partnered with Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) to present the inaugural Pasifika Award for Best Feature Film.[13] KĀINGA (New Zealand) directed by Michelle Ang, Ghazaleh Golbakhsh, HASH, Nahyeon Lee, Angeline Loo, Asuka Sylvie, Yamin Tun, Julie Zhu also received a special mention.

Year Film Director Country
2022 WHINA Paula Whetu Jones and James Napier Robertson Aotearoa New Zealand
2023[14] NO MĀORI ALLOWED Corinna Hunziker Aotearoa New Zealand

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.[19] 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) China
2010 Beijing Taxi Miao Wang (Director) China
2011 The Price of Sex Mimi Chakarova (Director) Bulgaria
2011 Living in Seduced Circumstances Ian Gamazon (Director) Philippines
2011 Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul Nadia Hennirch (Screenwriter) Germany
2011 Almost Perfect Bertha Bay-Sa Pan (Director) Taiwan
2011 My Last Day Without You Christopher Silber (Screenwriter) Germany
2012 Valley of Saints Nicholas Bruckman (Producer) United Kingdom
2012 Indian Summer (Short Film) Mridu Chandra (Director) India
2012 Starlet Radium Cheung (Cinematographer) Hong Kong
2012 Paraiso (Short Film) Ronan Landa (Composer) Israel
2012 Daylight Savings Goh Nakamura (Actor) Japan
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) United Kingdom
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) South Korea
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
2020 Minari Steven Yeun (Executive Producer, Special Guest) South Korea
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
2022 NAP Feature Filmmaker Deborah Chow (Director) Canada
2022 FINDING SATOSHI Laurent Barthelemy (Writer, Director) France
2022 OUR FATHER, THE DEVIL Ellie Foumbi (Actor, Director) Cameroon
2022 LAND OF GOLD Nardeep Khurmi (Writer, Actor, Director) Switzerland
2022 WHINA Rena Owen (Actor) Aotearoa
2023[20] THE ACCIDENTAL GETAWAY DRIVER Sing J. Lee (Director) United Kingdom
2023[20] GEOFF MCFETRIDGE: DRAWING A LIFE Geoff McFetridge (Subject) Canada
2023[20] A REVOLUTION ON CANVAS Till Schauder & Sara Nodjoumi (Directors), Nicky Nodjoumi (Subject) Iran & United Kingdom
2023[20] SKIN OF GLASS Denise Zmekhol (Director) Brazil
2023[20] AUM: THE CULT AT THE END OF THE WORLD Chiaki Yanagimoto Japan

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. Archived from the original on March 5, 2020. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  3. ^ a b "HIFF Annual Report (2018)". hiff.org. Hawaiʻi International Film Festival. Archived from the original on 2019-11-09. Retrieved 2020-02-05.
  4. ^ a b "Annual Report | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 2021-02-22. Retrieved 2023-05-23.
  5. ^ "About HIFF". Hawaiʻi International Film Festival. Retrieved October 18, 2019.
  6. ^ "When Strangers Met: How the East-West Center Library Introduced International Film to Hawaii". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ "MAHALO, ROGER!: THE HAWAIIAN INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO ROGER". {{cite web}}: Missing or empty |url= (help)
  9. ^ Lincoln Jacobe. "Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival Announces 2008 Audience Winners". Archived from the original on July 19, 2009.
  10. ^ "Download the HIFF40 Program Guide". HIFF. Archived from the original on 2020-11-23. Retrieved 2020-11-22.
  11. ^ a b c 2018 HIFF Program Guide. Honolulu: Hawaiʻi International Film Festival. November 2018. p. 3.
  12. ^ a b c d "HIFF41 Announces Festival Award Winners | Hawaiʻi International Film Festival". 15 November 2021.
  13. ^ a b "HIFF42 announces jury award winners & honorees | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2023-05-22.
  15. ^ a b c "HIFF42 ANNOUNCES JURY AWARD WINNERS & HONOREES | Hawaiʻi International Film Festival". 15 November 2022.
  16. ^ "HIFF NAMED OSCAR®-QUALIFYING FESTIVAL FOR SHORT FILMS | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 2022-05-04. Retrieved 2023-05-23.
  17. ^ a b "HIFF42 announces jury award winners & honorees | Hawai'i International Film Festival". 2022-11-15. Retrieved 2023-05-23.
  18. ^ "HIFF 2019 Awards". Hawaiʻi International Film Festival. Retrieved November 27, 2019.
  19. ^ "The Vilcek Foundation - New American Filmmakers - Hawaii International Film Festival". Vilcek.org. Retrieved May 22, 2018.

External links[edit]