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Special Events

HIFF (Hawaii International Film Festival)


Pili (Kaipo Dudoit), a Native Hawaiian student-athlete standout, and Edmar (Jayron Munoz), a high-achieving Filipino student, are a part of rival senior class friend groups at Lahainaluna High School, who clash when Edmar’s group is caught overfishing a native species in a restored freshwater stream by Pili’s group. It’s a great setup for rival friend groups from different ethnic backgrounds. But when Edmar and Pili are assigned by a teacher to work on a final semester project together promoting their own cultural backgrounds, they are forced to work together or face failing, which is ix-nay for two overachieving students. Through their interactions working on the project, Pili and Edmar learn more about each other and unexpectedly develop feelings for one another. In his directorial feature film debut, Keli‘i Grace (ALA MOANA BOYS, HIFF 2021) crafts a feel-good, sentimental BL (Boy Love) teen romance, from a script by Lance D. Collins. BL is a popular genre across Asia, from manga to TV shows. As the first Kānaka Maoli BL film, MY PARTNER will resonate with all audiences, from teens, who will hoot and holler with many male bare chests on screen, to kupuna, who will admire young people practicing and preserving culture (and also fawn at the hawt boys too).​


HOMETOWN LEGENDS, from local filmmakers Nainoa Langer and Kolby Akamu Moser, documents five legendary Native Hawaiian kūpuna (elders) who are masters of their craft. These Hawai‘i Island legends represent paniolo (cowboys), lawai‘a (fishermen), po‘e ulana (lauhala weavers), pahu (drum) carvers and hoe wa‘a (canoe paddling) - and are leaders in cultural practices that were passed down from generations of their kūpuna. The filmmakers sat down with these five kūpuna to document their history, mea hana (craft), and kuleana (responsibility) as it was passed down to them, capturing stories about their ‘āina hānau (native land), adversities they've overcome and the lessons they believe are important to pass down to the next generation. Through their stories of resilience, we are reminded of what truly matters - identity, ‘ohana (family) and aloha ‘aina. PRECEDED BY: KAHUKU MANA United States, Hawai‘i 2023 | English | 21M DIRECTOR: Ryan Travis.


For decades, Hawai‘i has produced some of the best football players in the game. When the Kahuku High School Red Raiders endure the tragic deaths of three coaches in a short span, the team and community draw inspiration from within, rallying into the state playoffs while honoring the culture that provides the unifying foundation of their lives.


Seen through the eyes of a Korean American family that leaves the Bay Area for small-town Wyoming after experiencing devastating loss, A GREAT DIVIDE addresses the emotional and psychological impact of racism and xenophobia on Asian Americans, the loneliness and sacrifice of immigrant sojourners and the generational burden of expectations that weigh on their children. But it''s also a story about a family repairing itself after tragedy, about a young man breaking out of his shell and finding love, about reconciliation and redemption. Inspired by director Jean Shim''s own experiences of moving to rural Wyoming during lockdown, A GREAT DIVIDE stars Ken Jeong (in a rare dramatic turn) and Jae Suh Park as the parents, and Emerson Min as their son Benjamin, in a stellar debut.


From the Kanaka warriors in ancient Hawai‘i to a Southeast Asian farmer wanting to return home, these local stories represent the spectrum of narrative diversity in small, yet impactful, doses.




-My Brother


-Sunset 44


It’s the mid-90’s in Northern California and 13-year-old Pakistani American Ilyas (Atharva Verma) is facing a major crisis — his parents yanked him out of his comfortable Islamic private school and now he has to face life at public school. Ilyas’ fears about joining public school are made worse by insecurities due to his inescapable, prepubescent MUSTACHE. While he hatches a hilarious plan to return to his old school, Ilyas finds a meaningful outlet in his new school''s theater program and forges friendships with non-Muslim kids that accept him – but Ilyas must also learn to accept himself. MUSTACHE makes for an outstanding directorial feature debut from Imran Khan, which hugely benefits from Verma’s charming and endearing performance. Easily relatable, laugh-out-loud funny and downright delightful, the film wowed SXSW audiences, where it world premiered, and they responded with their ballots, awarding it the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature.

8:00PM KUBI (Japan)

Set in 16th century Feudal Japan, rival warlords battle for domination and territory. Lord Oda Nobunaga, intent on conquering the entire country, is waging war against several clans when one of his vassals, Araki Murashige, betrays him and mounts a rebellion while promptly going into hiding. Nobunaga assembles his other vassals including Mitsuhide and Hideyoshi, and orders them to capture the fugitive Murashige, warning “I’ll choose whoever works hardest as my successor.” Employing various ideas, schemes, and traps, they’re soon brought to a crossroads in this complicated situation. All roads lead to Honno-ji temple, where fate awaits them all. At first reported to be Takeshi Kitano''s final film as director (apparently, he''s changed his mind), KUBI, which is based on his own novel, is a return to form of previous films from his oeuvre--think a mashup of ZATŌICHI with the yakuza thuggery of the OUTRAGE series--With the sexual and carnal fluidity of Nagisa Oshima''s GOHATTO...And lots (and we mean LOTS) of beheadings by katana. It''ll literally make heads roll.

2:30PM PACIFIC MOTHER (New Zealand)

When freedivers Sachiko Fukumoto and William Trubridge are unable to access the natural water-birth they passionately want for the birth of their first child in Japan, they travel to Aotearoa New Zealand. There they are supported by a world-leading midwifery system to have the birth they dreamed of. Sachiko wonders how many other mothers are fighting for control of their birth journeys and she seeks out ocean-women across the Pacific region. Along the way she meets other prospective mothers–Kimi Werner (Hawai‘i), Rava Ray (Tahiti) and Ioana Turia (Cook Islands)-- they all feel a deep connection to the ocean, and this played a big role in their pregnancy and birthing choices. Sachiko also interviews midwives from across the Pacific including from her native Okinawa, many of whom battle regulations and a lack of resources in order to support parents. Sachiko’s journey reveals that when people are given knowledge and are supported emotionally, physically and culturally, they are more likely to have a positive birth experience, no matter where or how it takes place, whether it's in hospital or at home, on land or in the water.


From the main doc feature that unpacks wayfinding traditions and the future of Hōkūleʻa, these docs represent the multi-facets of Native Hawaiian culture and legacy.
- Ho'oulu Hou

- Hokule'a: Finding The Language of The Navigator

- Ka'a'ume'ume: Navigating Home

- Seeing With Hawaiian Eyes


When a global pandemic decimates the tourism industry across the Hawaiian Islands it means no travel, no tourists, and no surf lessons. Surf instructor Bull Kotter (or ''Bully'' as he's lovingly called) suddenly finds his small business pushed to the brink. So he turns to his community-Lahaina-not for help or a handout, but to give back. From surf culture, to ocean respect, to kindness, Uncle Bully is translating etiquette in the line-up into etiquette in life. This is a film about the power of one person to shape a more hopeful future for the next generation. All screenings of UNCLE BULLY’S SURF SKOOL are Free to the public. These are special event HIFF screenings, featuring Maui-based cast and crew, in support of #MauiStrong.
The description above encapsulates this man and his community, coming back from the brink of economic collapse after a global pandemic, to pivot into something deeper and nurturing. Then, the Maui wildfires in August happened. With a community decimated, UNCLE BULLY’S SURF SKOOL is now a visual document of a former Lahaina, now a memory. After a few days, the filmmaking team regrouped and immediately hit the ground to add a coda to this film, documenting a Lahaina in the aftermath and the recovery and resilience that has only begun on the very long road to rebuilding a town, a community, and its people.