Freestyle: Cutting-edge films coming at you
BY ELIZABETH KIESZKOWSKI / email@example.com
The Hawaii International Film Festival offers a shocking variety of films each year, with the hardest part being making a choice as to which ones you want to see.
HAWAII INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL
» Where: Various locations
The focus is films from across the Pacific Rim, including a strong showing of Hawaii and Asian films. But I was also interested to know what films might particularly appeal to “hipsters” — by which I mean people who have a sense of adventure, who want to know what is brand-new and who want the inside track on what’s good before everyone else discovers it.
Lucky for me that Anna Page, HIFF associate program director, got pretty excited about that idea, too. Her eyes lit up when I mentioned it and immediately launched into a series of recommendations.
I asked Page for her top choices and comments about why she selected each film. Click the links below or check the schedule at hiff.org for screening times.
An Iranian vampire western? Yes please! This darling of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival is truly something out of the box. A unique and uber-hip film, it is shot entirely in Los Angeles in black and white, and entirely in Farsi language.
Ultra-chic and very noir, audiences will fall in love with ‘the girl’ a beautiful, cloaked, skateboard-riding vampire that stalks the streets of ‘Bad City’ rooting out the criminals and lowlife drug-dealers that run the town. Director Ana Lily Amirpour will be in attendance for the first screening of this film.
A bisexual Persian Brooklyn hipster comedy, audiences will adore Desiree Akhavan’s “Appropriate Behavior.” Young Brooklynite Shirin is at somewhat of a crossroads in her life, trying to reconcile her Persian upbringing and family with her hipster life in Brooklyn as a bisexual twenty-something.
Director and writer Desiree Akhavan stars as Shirin, and brings a witty, dry sense of humor to the screen that is truly laugh-out-loud funny. A unique take on the romantic or anti-romantic comedy, this Sundance premiere is urban, fun, and hilarious. Director Desiree Akhavan will be in attendance for the first screening of this film.
About Akhavan, from HIFF: “This Iranian-American filmmaker Desiree Akhavan is the writer, director and star of ‘Appropriate Behavior,’ which premiered at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival. She is also the co-creator and star of critically acclaimed web series ‘The Slope,’ a comedy that follows a pair of superficial, homophobic lesbians in love. Desiree was featured as one of Filmmaker Magazine’s ‘25 New Faces of Independent Film’ and will appear on the next season of ‘Girls.’”
Part legend and part fantasy, “Kumiko” is the perfect film for cinephiles, Coen brothers fans, and those who love all things quirky and a little bit strange. Based on the legend of a Japanese woman who actually made the trek, “Kumiko the Treasure Hunter” follows a Japanese woman on a quest to find the treasure hidden in 1990’s classic “Fargo.”
Star actress Rinko Kikuchi plays Kumiko, a mousy Japanese office lady with a pet bunny, and an obsession with an old VHS tape of “Fargo.” Embarking on an epic road trip to find the treasure, Kumiko is both laugh-out-loud funny, and incredibly sweet. This road-trip adventure movie will have audiences rooting for “Kumiko” and maybe believing in lost treasure after all.
A taut thriller from HIFF favorite Dave Boyle, “Man From Reno” offers a fresh take on the genre with Japanese actress and writer Ayako Fujitani taking the lead. Ayako offers an incredible performance and is enthralling as a mystery writer hiding out in San Francisco, and Kazuki Kitamura is the perfect charming mystery man.
This film has some serious twists and turns, and keeps the audiences guessing. Slick, cool, and a engaging, this modern day film noir is perfect for audiences looking for a thrill. The winner for best narrative feature at Los Angeles Film Festival, co-writer Michael Lerman will be in attendance for the first screening.
This stand out film from the 2014 Cannes Film Festival offers a one-of-a-kind viewing experience, and is one of the most shocking titles at HIFF 2014. The film follows a deaf teenage student as he enters an underground world of drugs, sex, and gang life, unlike any other.
Featured entirely in sign language and with no subtitles “The Tribe” pushes the audience to engage with the film using only body language and visual effects and unfolds in a whirlwind of unwritten rules, love, passion, and hatred. For audiences looking for something that pushes the envelope, you’ve never seen anything like “The Tribe.”
Elizabeth Kieszkowski is editor of TGIF, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s weekly arts and entertainment section. Reach her via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter.