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Maui Film Festival 2004: Aloha With Cinema

By Keiko Beatie

The Maui Film Festival, now in its fifth year, again shares with film goers that even in paradise you may be tempted to immerse yourself in cinema and not the Pacific Ocean.  Barry and Stella Rivers opened up their hearts with island spirit in this four day festival last month that is becoming a must go for the most discering festival visitors. With more than 50 films screening at this year's festival, film goers were sure to find a film that will make them leave the beach for the big screen. With major stars attending, a buzz was in the tropical trade winds. Not a large festival by any means, but the location, events, films, and hospitality indulged you as a festival to be well noted. 

Awards presented this year to industry notables included; the Maverick Tribute Award, to Bill Maher; Trailblazer Award to Ted Hope; Pathfinder Award to Angela Basset. The Navigator award was presented to Woody Harrelson for navigating the turbulent waters of the entertainment industry to create a career of distinction.  It was also noted that Angela Basset was a most gracious speaker as she shared her vision on the craft of acting and filmmaking.

As well as the awards being presented, the Maui Film Festival had special events everyday to highlight the beautiful surroundings that make this festival the jewel of the Pacific.  Some of the special events that took place during the festival included the Taste of Wailea, the Filmmakers Panel at the Wailea Marriott Resort, and a Father's Day Concert ending the Festival.

A sampling of the films screened this year included:

Saved, a great cast supporting a terrific first time writer-director Brian Dannelly, this coming of age comedy staring Mandy Moore, McCauley Culkin and Jena Malone learn the ins and outs of being out in and/or pregnant in a conservative Christian high school.  Dannelly a once former AFI Fellow, does an outstanding job as a first-time feature Director; Open Waters, the film that may make you decide not to go in the Hawaiian waters, low budget and base on a true experience this is the thriller of the summer season; Concert for George, an emotional tribute to George Harrison; Danny Deck Chair,  the popular comedy from Australia; Door in the Floor, starring Jeff Bridges and Kim Bassinger about an emotional summer in the East Hamptons with a couple coming to terms with their relationship; Garden State, writer, director and actor Zach Braff (Scrubs) follows twenty something Andrew as re-connects with his family in New Jersey, also staring Natalie Portman; Love Me if You Dare, this Paramount Classic is soon to become a charming favorite along the lines of the popular Amelie; Napoleon Dynamite, a top film from the Sundance Film Festival, high school life is still a comedy and tragedy for each student as they try and get a diploma; The Notebook, star crossed lovers meet during the turbulent times of World War II, and Two Brothers, a cinematic fable shot in Cambodia and Thailand, highlighting the story of two tiger cubs and their misadventures.

One of the most highlighted of screening locals is the Tommy Bahamas Celestial Cinema, an outdoor, under the star theater overlooking Molikini and other surrounding islands. Blessed to have on staff for the Festival was their very own astronomer who gives a reading of the stars before each Celestial screening.  Where else but in paradise would you have this at a Film Festival. With all these events much Aloha has been woven into the tapa cloth of the Festival. Everything from free frapachinos at the Celestial Cinema to shuttles to and from various venues, guest and locals will sure to be fulfilled with the manna and spirit of Aloha at the Maui Film Festival. For more information www.mauifilmfestival.com call 808.572.3456  See you next year. 

Keiko Beatie



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