The 2017 Hawaii European Cinema Film Festival March 24-26 is followed by an awards gala March 31, with celebrities and plenty of glitz and glamour
Roll out the red carpet for one of our town’s most glamorous events. It’s time to shine the spotlight on the 2017 Hawaii European Cinema Film Festival March 24-26 at Consolidated Ward Theatres and its glitzy awards gala March 31 at Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa.
Scripted to share the culture of Europe, the marquee event, presented by Luxury Row, focuses on world-class performers and aspiring filmmakers. Film fanciers and European-style followers also have the occasion to herald the indelible influence of Europe on the world.
The birthplace of Western civilization, Europe gave us democracy, philosophy, history, drama, verse, medicine and science. It also gave us The Beatles, Adele, Sophia Loren, Gucci, BMW, the pope and Pavarotti.
Europe is associated with sophistication, stylishness and proud traditions.
So it is with Hawaii European Cinema (HEC), which started in 2009 as part of Hawaii International Film Festival. Two years ago, it incorporated as a separate, independent entity, giving it wings.
Its noteworthy gift to islanders is the premiere screenings of European films (see sidebar). Showings, free to the public, are at Consolidated Ward Theatres with TITAN XC.
Honolulu’s biggest movie screen features 4K digital projection and the latest Dolby Atmos sound system with ceiling speakers, powerful bass and top-quality subwoofers for an immersive movie experience.
Festival programming director Brent Anbe says, “We’re excited about the diverse selection of award-winning films that span over 11 European countries including the U.K., France, Italy, Poland, Denmark, Bosnia, Russia and Sweden. Within these film titles, we celebrate various genres of film, including musical, political thriller, comedy, drama, documentary and crowd-favorite dramedy.
“Our lineup brings the best of the best and acclaimed films from prestigious film festivals such as Cannes, Toronto and Sundance,” he boasts.
Can’t have a film festival without a cast of celebrities. HEC will welcome several at its red carpet gala and awards ceremony starting at 6 p.m.
Headlining the event and sure to stir a spectator spectacle will be special guests actor Pierce Brosnan and wife Keely Shaye Brosnan.
With 80 acting credits and several film productions, the James Bond star is Ireland and London’s gift to Hollywood. At 63, the handsome actor is executive producer of a documentary directed by his wife and Theresa Tico titled Poisoning Paradise.
The 49-minute documentary, to be screened at HEC, explores the environmental concerns over large-scale pesticide usage on Kauai. Interviews with local residents, scientists and health care professionals reveal the hardships and ecological dangers of intensive and continuous pesticide applications and the environmental injustice thrust upon locals.
Kauai, where the Brosnans reside, is described as “one of the most toxic agricultural environments in all of American agriculture.”
Kauai’s plight, centered on a Kauai County bill that later became law, stirred a grassroots movement that drew national attention about pesticides, the future of food and sustainable farming practices, according to Brosnan.
When not filming, Brosnan spends time on the Garden Isle kayaking, gardening, hiking, surfing and painting.
His American journalist and broadcast host wife is equally visible in screen media. She is known for her television correspondent roles in NBC’s Unsolved Mysteries and ABC’s The Home Show.
She and her husband of 15 years are active in natural resources, wildlife and humanitarian causes.
HEC awards will be presented this year to two other film luminaries, Eurasian actress Nancy Kwan and American film agent and producer Shep Gordon.
Kwan will receive the Dr. Lawrence Tseu Lifetime Achievement Award for her breakthrough roles in ethnically significant films such as The World of Suzie Wong (1960) and Flower Drum Song (1961). The Hong Kong-born actress, who was first spotted by film producer Ray Stark at England’s Royal Ballet School, went on to an illustrious career in acting and films, including producing a biographical documentary, To Whom It May Concern, which will be screened at the HEC film festival.
Maui entrepreneur Gordon will receive HEC’s Legacy Award for his work on numerous film productions, including The Duellists and Kiss of the Spider Woman. He founded Alive Films, one of the first independent film production companies in the U.S. A renowned talent manager and promoter, Gordon once represented Alice Cooper, Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross. He also is known for bringing the modern wave of celebrity chefs, such as Emeril Lagasse, into existence.
But perhaps the most inspiring aspect of HEC’s support to the community is the awarding of scholarships to promising filmmakers and cinematographers.
According to Chris Lee, HEC executive vice president and founder of University of Hawaii’s Academy of Creative Media (ACM), this is the aspect of the film festival that’s “close to my heart.”
“The Hawaii European Film Festival has given more than $25,000 in direct cash awards to students and the University of Hawaii Academy for Creative Media, thanks to the generosity of our supporters, Sunny Dupree Family Foundation and Hollywood Foreign Press Association,” Lee says.
In 2014, for instance, a stipend went to Kali Kasashima, whose ACM short film, titled N. King, was judged Best Student Film at Hawaii International Film Festival. The 10-minute drama about a youngster in the rough neighborhood of Kalihi who commits his first crime is suspenseful and engrossing. (viddsee.com/video/n-king).
The Roosevelt High School and UH grad now works at Universal Studios in Los Angeles doing editing and post-production for major feature films, such as Kong: Skull Island and The Fate of The Furious. He lauds exposure in local film showcases, such as HEC festival, that “takes classroom learning into the realistic realm of movie audiences, where the true merits of films are judged.”
“There’s no better proving ground for a film student,” he says.
Whether it’s the work of an aspiring apprentice or the seasoned celebrities of European filmdom, Hawaii European Cinema captures the best aspects of the movie industry. Just as the Academy Awards and Golden Globes enrapture audiences every year, so do homegrown programs such as HEC.
To see the vision of its founder Princess Dialta Alliata di Montereale come to life is a gratifying part of the annual event. The regal islander is a driving force behind the film festival and namesake of the coveted award honoring the best film of the festival.
HEC president and founding member Patrick Gey sums it up, stating, “The whole of EuroCinema is greater than the sum of its parts. Our success is thanks to the hard work and collaborative efforts of our volunteer board and sponsors, who have played a pivotal role in our achievements.
“Acquiring the latest and most distinctive European films is costly; therefore, both private and corporate sponsors are instrumental in achieving our goals,” he asserts.
So, as the curtain goes up on another celebration of the films and heritage of Europe, let us applaud the traditions and talents that emanate from the glamour capital of the world. Whether one is European or European-at-heart, it’s time to put that pride on display by participating in the HEC events.
Lights out. Roll ’em!
Friday, March 24:
3:30 p.m.: United States of Love, Poland/Sweden, Drama
6 p.m.: I, Daniel Blake, UK, Drama, Palme d’Or winner for Best Feature Film at Cannes Film Festival
8:30 p.m.: I Who Only Love You, Italy, Comedy
Saturday, March 25:
12:15 p.m.: The Student, Russia, Drama
3 p.m.: The Commune, Denmark, Dramedy
6 p.m.: The Workers Cup, UK, Documentary, Director and producer in attendance
8:30 p.m.: Death in Sarajevo, Bosnia, Political thriller
Sunday, March 26:
12:15 p.m.: The Land of the Enlightened, Belgium, Documentary
2:30 p.m.: Julie and the Shoe Factory, France, Musical
5 p.m.: To Whom It May Concern: Ka Shen’s Journey, USA, Documentary, Nancy Kwan in attendance.
7:45 p.m.: Things to Come, France, Drama
For information, trailers and free reserved tickets with nominal service fee, visit hawaiieuropeancinema.org. Tickets for March 31 awards gala cost $150 per person available online.