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HIFF 2006.1: First Impressions of Hawaii

HIFF 2006.1: First Impressions of Hawaii

Okay, everything’s back up and running, computer-wise. I have to admit, it’s been rather odd, attending a film festival for four days and not blogging about it much at all. There have been several reasons, including the aforementioned computer glitches. But also, it’s been hard to even find time to get in front of the ailing iBook, due to a very busy schedule and the few random free moments spent soaking up the Hawaiian culture and the Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival.

So, okay, where to begin? Jarren and I arrived Thursday night after a very long flight, which meant missing the Opening Day Press Conference. My two fellow jurors, film journalist Elvis Mitchell and film actor Kal Penn, stood in for me and did a fine job. We also missed the Opening Night Film, but it was Babel, and… been there, done that, loved that. The first morning kicked off with sun, breakfast by the beach, and some exploring in the shops surrounding our hotel. First impressions of Hawaii: sunny, full of every boutique shop imaginable, and busy with tourists from Asia. As a first-time Hawaii visitor, I hadn’t realized that Japanese tourists give the town so much business, that most places are bilingual. And, this is really cool. It’s kind of refreshing to be in an American city that feels like a foreign country.

After some wandering, I finally meet up with my fellow jurors. Kal, Elvis, Jarren, and I grab some amazing Korean BBQ (which is everywhere here!), and start discussing our goals for the jury. It’s a good mix of people: I work at a festival, Elvis is on countless festival juries, and Kal makes movies. Boy, does Kal make movies. The co-star of Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle as well as the upcoming Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj and Mira Nair’s The Namesake, gets hounded everywhere we go. At times, you feel for the guy (who would want random college kids screaming “Hey, Kumar!” from 30 yards away?) but he’s always really cool and friendly to the well-wishers.

We connect with our awesome Jury Coordinator, Sean, and we’re off to our first screening. Now, in the interest of objectivity and festival rules, I’m not gonna blog a word about any of the films we’re seeing in the Golden Orchid Competition… until we’re all done. I will say, though, that we’re watching five documentary features and five narrative features, and we have to pick one winner per category, and the awards ceremony will be Thursday night, at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

In between screenings, Sean is showing us around (all of us are first-time Hawaii visitors) and introducing us to a lot of sights and food. And, we’re meeting a lot of people in the Hawaiian and Asian film community. Many folks are coming straight from the Pusan Film Festival, and have the jet-lag to prove it. So, that’s it for now. I’ll be back soon with more details and even some pictures.

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