Outtakes: EuroCinema Hawaii looks ahead

May. 6, 2015 | 0 Comments

outtakes mug aug 2014

BY MIKE GORDON / mgordon@staradvertiser.com

EuroCinema Hawaii appears to have survived its surprise breakup with the Hawaii International Film Festival, which helped curate and promote the European-centered film festival.

Once touted as “a festival within a festival,” EuroCinema Hawaii will now operate independently of HIFF and screen films Oct. 15-22 — a month before the larger event — in Consolidated Theatres’ Ward and Kahala theaters.

NADINE KAM / 2014Brent Anbe.

NADINE KAM / 2014

Brent Anbe is the new festival director for EuroCinema Hawaii.

The festival’s red-carpet, black-tie gala will be held Oct. 23 at the Moana Surfrider.

EuroCinema named local casting director Brent Anbe as its festival director and veteran Los Angeles film consultant Maggie Mackay to help select films.

But the festival also brought on board a high-profile adviser: former Congressman and Gov. Neil Abercrombie.

“EuroCinema Hawaii has firmly established itself as a leader within the international film festival circuit,” Abercrombie said in a statement.

“With its educational and philanthropic commitment to Hawaii’s student filmmakers and its cross-continental relationships throughout Europe, it is poised to expand and perpetuate Hawaii’s celebration of arts and storytelling through film.”

The news from EuroCinema underscores the confidence of its organizers, who were stunned in January when HIFF ended the five-year partnership. At the time, EuroCinema officials promised to continue their event.

“There was never any doubt,” said film producer Chris Lee, a founding board member. “Our sponsors always stood with us. We built five years of great brand equity.”

HIFF, the state’s biggest film festival, helped EuroCinema from the start but felt it was growing too large — and was becoming too costly and time-consuming — to continue the relationship.

Over the course of the partnership, EuroCinema Hawaii spent more than $125,000 to sponsor HIFF’s selection of 59 European films, including the 2012 best-picture Oscar winner “The Artist” and this year’s Oscar winner “The Imitation Game,” starring Benedict Cumberbatch.

“We are not an unknown entity,” Lee said.

“I think people have a good perception about us already. I think we set ourselves apart with our signature event at the Moana and our films. We had a great time with HIFF, and it is what it is.”

EuroCinema screened a dozen films last fall but will not announce its lineup until later in the year. Organizers are hoping for 12 to 15 films, Lee said.

Patrick Gey, president of EuroCinema Hawaii, said the question festival organizers asked themselves in the wake of the split was not what to do this fall, but where would they like to see EuroCinema in five years.

Creating a theater deal was crucial — “You cannot do a film festival without having a location,” Gey said — but the arrangement with Consolidated extends beyond EuroCinema’s fall event. Gey said EuroCinema will work with Consolidated to pre­sent European films at the chain’s Kahala 8 multiplex, starting with “Black Souls” on Friday. The film, by Italian director Francesco Munzi, has been described as a darkly elegant gangster drama.

“We are looking at building a relationship through the year,” Gey said. “That is new and important and fresh to Hawaii where our film festival is the peak point, but we also are not quiet for the rest of the year. We are moving along with movies we highlight because we think people should pay attention to them.”

Gey said the goal of EuroCinema is not to compete with other festivals in Hono­lulu, but instead rely on the reputation it has created.

“EuroCinema’s growth over the last five years has been quite phenomenal,” Gey said. “We have gone from something which was very small to something important.”
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Mike Gordon covers film and television in Hawaii for the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Email him at mgordon@staradvertiser.com and follow him on Twitter. Read his weekly “Outtakes” column Sundays in the Star-Advertiser.

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