Hawaii International Film Festival Prizes



No Maori Allowed, directed by Corinna Hunziger was named the winner of the Pasifika Award and recipient of a $5,000 cash prize at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

It recounts the story of a teacher who unearths a secret past in the town of Pukekohe. Thet causes M?ori community figures to come forward to share personal stories that shaped their lives.

The festival’s Kau Ka H?k? or shooting star award for an international emerging filmmaker making their first or second feature film, was awarded to “Asog,” by Sean Devlin. It is a tragicomic road film that follows a non-binary Filipino comedian pursuing their dream of becoming a pageant queen.

The jury also provided honorable mentions for performance to “Mustache,” directed by Imran Khan and to “Tiger Stripes,” directed by Amanda Nell Eu.

This year’s Best Made In Hawai‘i Feature winner was H?k?le’a: Finding The Language of the Navigator, directed by Ty Sanga. “[The director] presents a fresh perspective on the iconic canoe by focusing not on the boat itself but the people and elements around it which allow the Hokule’a to reach ever new horizons, said the festival’s Made in Hawai‘i jury. It also presented an honorable mention in the feature film category to “My Partner” directed by Keli‘i Grace.

The Made In Hawai‘i jury also recognized “Aikane,” directed by Daniel Sousa, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson for the section’s best short film. “Kala,” directed by Matt Yamashita, and “Sunset on 44” by Devan Fujinaka received honorable mentions.

But Hawaii’s spotlight also fell on some of the biggest names in Asian cinema.

Korea-based actor and producer Don Lee (aka Ma Dong-seok), was given the HIFF Maverick Award. “From his game changing supporting role in ‘Train to Busan’ and the mega-success of ‘The Roundup’ franchise, garnering over 30 million admissions in South Korea alone, he has cross-cultural appeal unlike any Korean star working today,” the festival said.

The festival’s ‘New Vanguard Award’ is presented annually to an established creative in their own home region, who has placed their national cinema on the map through international acclaim. This year it went to Japanese actor Ando Sakura, who recently appeared in Harada Masato’s “Badlands” and also stars in Kore-eda Hirokazu’s “Monster,” which debuted in competition in Cannes and will release commercially in North America from next month.

The Leanne K. Ferrer Trailblazer Award was awarded to Cliff Curtis, the celebrated Maori actor and producer, whose credits include “Whale Rider,” “Once Were Warriors” and “The Dark Horse.” During the festival, he led a masterclass with other actors with aims including inspiring the new class of Pasifika performers to fight for accurate portrayals. “My goal is to no longer play a Native Hawaiian role, which should be played by a Hawaiian. My goal is to be obsolete,” he said.


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