The Made in Hawai’i Film Festival (MIHFF) recently released its official selection slate for their third annual festival, housing 62 films all created in the state of Hawai’i – a number that nearly doubles last year’s count of 35. The festival, which takes place in Hilo and Kona on Hawai’i island, was originally planned for the final weekend in May, but due to the impact of COVID-19, festival organizers have pushed the event back, and are waiting to publicly release their new dates.
“We’ve secured tentative new dates with our venues for late summer but are holding off on announcing them until we feel it’s safe to call people to gather,” says festival Executive Director Zoe Eisenberg, who stresses the festival will push back again should they need to. “Because the festival has such a strong community focus, switching to a digital platform is not the right move for us, and we’re happy to wait until we can responsibly ask our audience and artists to come together.”
For the past two years, the grassroots event– run entirely by independent filmmakers–has acted much like an industry conference, gathering local filmmakers from all the islands to connect during the festival’s main weekend in downtown Hilo.
“Last year we had 46 filmmakers attend to represent 35 films, and with both submissions and selections doubling between 2019 and 2020, we hope to multiply our filmmaker presence as well,” says festival Technical Director Phillips Payson, who also serves as the Executive Director for the Hilo Palace Theater, MIHFF’s main weekend venue.
The 2020 slate includes numerous narrative and documentary shorts, features, series, and nine music videos submitted from artists on Big Island, Oahu, Maui, and Kauai.
Included in their music section are works from Hilo-based hip-hop artist Knowledge Iz (directed by Jordan Christopher), Hilo-based filmmaker Dom Walczuk, Thomas Iannucci (directed by Cory K. Riley), Chad Thurman, Chase and Kelsi Kauhane, creative puppeteer Dane Neves and abstract animator Braininacat.
New to the festival will be a free-to-the-public opening night event focused on the Native Hawaiian experience both past and present, made possible through an award from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Also new to the 2020 event will be a late-night genre block featuring nine horror, sci-fi, and action shorts.
“The amount of submissions [that came in]was inspiring,” says Vincent Keala Lucero, MIHFF’s Head of Development, Native Hawaiian Programming. “It’s a marker for growth, and we’re very excited to present some excellent films by this next generation of local filmmakers, ones that showcase a more authentic Hawai’i experience than what most see on TV.”
The festival’s roster includes member contributions from local incubators, collectives and creative programs such as the Hawai’i Filmmakers Collective, Creative Lab Hawai’i, Ohina and the Hawai’i-based seven-day filmmaking challenge Slate & Marker.
The complete list of selections can be found at www.mihff.org/2020films.
Courtesy photos provided by MIHFF