FilmSlashTV: Hawaii-made short subjects

Aug. 31, 2011 | 0 Comments

Auntie talks story with keiki about 'Why Maui Snared The Sun.' (Courtesy PREL)


Those of us of greatly advanced age recall when movie theaters showed something called “selected short subjects” before the feature started. Generally, this was a cartoon or a sports highlight or a newsreel. About all that remains of this concept today is the movie trailer and assorted commercials recycled from television.

The irony is that, with modern digital cameras and laptop editing software, making shorts is easier than ever.

But, unless you haunt YouTube and Vimeo, where do you see the best films your community has to offer? It’s not as if our local theater chains play them (nudge nudge wink wink).

Try the ‘Ohina Short Film Showcase, an annual competition of short films with Hawaii connections. Many are entered, few are chosen, which means, essentially, that each short gives maximum satisfaction.

This year’s showcase, backed by Pacific Islanders in Communications, runs this weekend at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.

“‘Ohina means ‘the gathering’ in Hawaiian,” explained Gerard Elmore, a Honolulu-based TV commercial director and an organizer of the event. “It’s not a competition — no one is going to ‘win’ — the prize is actually getting into the festival.”

One of Elmore’s films made the cut, although the judging is out of the organizers’ hands. They use an independent jury.

Elmore explained that something like 30 films are generally entered, and most have running times of about 10 minutes. “The idea to create a two-hour show of the best films,” said Elmore. The judges this year consisted of Academy of Arts film curators and writers from Honolulu magazine and Honolulu Weekly.

The rules are simple — films must be less than 30 minutes long, made in Hawaii or by Hawaii residents, submitted on DVD. That, plus a $20 entrance fee, gets one considered.

This year’s slate includes “Mute,” directed and written by Jeremy Johnson; “The Vault,” directed by Gerard Elmore and written by Eric Yokomori; “Extinction of the Sabertooth House Cat,” directed and written by Damon Wong; “The Green Tie Affair,” directed and written by Dane Neves; “Blessed Assurance,” directed and written by ‘Aina Paikai; “Bozo,” directed and written by Blake Pedersen and Fabio Cardoso; “Man On the Moon,” directed and written by Jordan Teruya; “Why Maui Snared the Sun,” directed by Michael Q. Ceballos, written by Lee Cataluna; “Night of the Living,” directed and written by Kenji Doughty, “Not I,” directed and written by Misa Tupou; “Once Was Paradise,” directed by Kenji Doughty, written by Kenji Doughty and Yamato Cibulka; and “Shave Ice is Nice,” directed and written by Roman Cortez.

“I’ve noticed that the films have been getting better over the years, really competitive with anywhere in the world,” said Elmore. “And there are interesting people who turn out to see these shorts — advertising directors, the film industry, film fans in general. It’s a showcase.”

One of the annual pleasure of the showcase are the clever mini-shorts and commercials made to hype the event. We’ll embed some of them below.

Although Elmore is an experienced filmmaker with a resume of TV commercials and a feature film under his belt, he didn’t make the cut the first several times he submitted to ‘Ohina.

“I’ve been rejected … many times. Nature of the business,” he said. “Like everything else, some projects turn out better than others. You can’t always make a great movie, but no one sets out to make a bad film.”

Sounds like Hollywood in a nutshell. Plus, I can’t resist this rather brilliant trailer from last year:

The Ohina Short Film Showcase kicks off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday (an opening reception will start at 6 p.m.) and continues at 1, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts. Admission is $10 general admission, $8 for HAA members ($15 general admission on opening night, $12 for members).

Call 532-8700 or visit and
Burl Burlingame is a features reporter at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at and follow him on Twitter.

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