Hawaii Film Blog

Thursday, October 26, 2006

HIFF Report: Monster, Matty, Mujeres

A round-up of some of my HIFF activities ('coz I'm sure you are all just dying to know what I've been up to):


  • Saw Korean monster flick "The Host" by Bong Joon-ho. Went in with high expectations and came out thinking it was so-so. Having watched a bunch of Korean films now, I'm noticing that they (at least the ones I've seen) are more rambling than I'm used to. Pacing is a bit off, there's always one too many ba-dump-bump moments, and the actors drip with melodrama. Oh well, it was entertaining enough. I was a bit peeved though that I didn't get to give my prepared intro of the film. Here it is, in case anyone cares:

    THE HOST premiered to vast critical acclaim at Cannes, where it was acquired by Magnolia Pictures, which will release the film here in the US in January 2007. In South Korea, where THE HOST was released in July, the film became the highest grossing South Korean film of all time, breaking the record previously set by THE KING AND THE CLOWN, which is also screening here at HIFF. The film was partially inspired by an incident in 2000, in which an American mortuary chief at a US Army base in Seoul instructed his subordinates to dump 60 gallons of formaldehyde into a sewer that dumps out to the Han River. The monster in the film was designed by a Korean animator, and modeled at Peter Jackson’s WETA studios in New Zealand, which was also responsible for the special and visual effects in the LOTR trilogy and King Kong.

    That was it for Tuesday. Sadly, I missed "Memories of Matsuko."


  • Went to NETPAC luncheon and met some cool peeps. NETPAC stands for Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema, and is an international, non-profit organization with reps throughout the world including critics, filmmakers, festival organizers and curators, distributors and exhibitors, and film educators. HIFF's founder Jeanette Paulson Hereniko organized the event, and local folks like current HIFF exec direcor Chuck Boller, UH Academy for Creative Media (ACM) educators Anne Misawa and Wimal Dissanayake, and former ACM student and filmmaker Jay Hubert, were there. NETPAC sends out a jury to various film festivals to decide which film will get a particular fest's NETPAC Award. At this year's HIFF, NETPAC jurors included ACM chair Tom Brislin, Bangkok and Palm Springs Film Fest programmer Therese Hayes, and Manila-based film critic and Criticine founder Alexis Tioseco. Also there were Nguyen Nghiem Dang Tuan, director of "Jackfruit Thorn Kiss," and Corey Tong, film festival programming vet and producer of "The Land Has Eyes."
  • Listened to (Filipino American!) cinematographer Matthew Libatique wax melancholic about the growing obsolescence of good ol' fashioned film. Digital formats are taking over the marketplace, and making filmmakers lazy in the process. Without the restrictions of film (cost, light, etc.) to rein cinematographers and directors in and make them really think carefully about their shots, the digital revolution has encouraged a free-wheeling lack of discipline that hurts the photographic craft. The big old traditional film schools still teach celluloid (thank God), but more and more film programs that don't use film are springing up. The UH's Academy for Creative Media is one of them, but that's because we have no film processing lab here, and have to ship our film to get processed on the mainland (= expensive!).
  • Introduced "AMERICANese" and got to meet Hawaii-bred Eric Byler, Chris Tashima, and Shawn Wong. Had a schedule conflict so couldn't stay to watch it, but at the Q&A, Byler made an interesting point: he said that Asian American audiences see his films to see themselves up on the screen, and non-Asian audiences go expecting to see art films. Actually, I've noticed that a lot at HIFF and in movie-going in general: "ethnic minority"="artsy" to a lot of white audiences, no matter the genre or content of the film. This has got to stop. There's another screening of "AMERICANese" on Sat, 10/28 at 1:15pm. Also, don't miss my chat with Eric Byler on Mon, 10/30 at noon.
  • I finally saw a film at the fest that I loved: Pedro Almodovar's "Volver." It will win the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar and Penelope Cruz will get a Best Actress nod, I'm sure. The film will be released by Sony Pictures Classics next month. There are very few foreign films getting released in the U.S. these days (that portion of the "art film" market has been taken over by U.S. documentaries and Indiewood films), so go see this one!

In about an hour, the HIFF Awards Ceremony will get underway, and all the winning films will be announced and scheduled to re-screen on Sunday.

Technical Difficulties at HIFF, on Blog
Hawaii Films at HIFF
>> Hawaiinuiakea Film Festival
LVHIFF 2005: A Retrospective
Hawaii's "Digital Revolution" Continues
Asian American Film Festivals
Cultural Insensitivity

Like this post? Be social & share it:
digg   Reddit   del.icio.us   NewsVine   Technorati