Isle gears up for film festival


The Big Island Film Festival 2013 will take place May 23 to 27 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii and The Shops at Mauna Lani. A celebration of narrative filmmaking, the festival includes film screenings, social events, a screenwriting workshop and a closing night “Best of the Fest” with a top Hawaiian music concert and movies chosen by the audience from festival entries.

“There are hundreds of film festivals around the country,” said Executive Director Leo Sears, “but how many offer the audience a resort setting like The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii? Their Plantation Estate is this incredibly beautiful luau area by the tennis garden. They set up a 20-foot screen and superb sound system, gourmet food stations, a beer and wine bar — all out there under the stars, surrounded by palm trees. It’s just a magnificent way to spend Memorial Day weekend.”

The majority of festival events takes place at various locations within The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, including daytime film screenings in the air-conditioned amphitheater, filmmaker workshops, celebrity receptions and salutes, as well as festival films (up to R rating) and Best of the Fest, at Plantation Estate. Family films (up to PG-13) are shown at The Shops at Mauna Lani center stage, where admission is free.

“We’re not quite ready to announce the celebrities for this year,” Sears said. Generally, one filmmaker and one actor are invited to attend the festival, where attendees can meet and interact with them at receptions and salutes in their honor, and other social occasions. “But I can tell you that we’re getting a lot of interest from stars who’ve heard about the festival and want to experience the Big Island.”

Past celebrity honorees have included Hawaii actresses Kristina Anapau (“Black Swan,” “True Blood”) and Sarah Wayne Callies (“The Walking Dead”), Tom Berenger, Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa, D.B. Sweeney, John Saxon and filmmakers Ron Osborn, Rick Stevenson, David Winning and Scott Stewart. And, such noted Hawaiian musicians as Makana, Brother Noland, John Cruz, Henry Kapono and Kohala have graced the stage.

The festival’s Golden Honu Awards will be presented to the best feature and best short in family, student, animated, foreign, Hawaii and audience choice categories at an awards brunch to honor the filmmakers and their works May 27. Numerous alumni films have won awards at prestigious film festivals around the world, and achieved commercial success in the industry. One of the festival’s alumni short films, “The Buzkashi Boys” was an 2013 Oscar nominee, and another, “The Sea is All I Know” starring Academy Award-winner Melissa Leo, was a nominee last year.

The Big Island Film Festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking. Sponsors include The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, The Shops at Mauna Lani, Hawaii County Department of Research and Development: CPEP Grant/Hawaii Tourism Authority, Redeeming Light International Inc. and others. For detailed information, visit bigislandfilmfestival.com, find it on Facebook or call 883-0394.