“It’s a Rubik’s Cube made of barbershop mirrors,” was how organizer Barry Rivers described the Maui Film Festival at Wailea to us a couple weeks ago. “It’s always hard.”
It’s always hard because Rivers brings so many great movies to Maui—45 feature length films, not including myriad shorts, cartoons and a few classic Harold Lloyd silent pictures for a free bonus. There are major studio films here, independent short subjects, political documentaries, musical tributes and even a few films made by and about Maui residents. Oh, and on Saturday, June 17 at 10 p.m., there will also be a special “Surprise Screening” of what Rivers describes as a “feature dramedy that has had the private screening rooms of industry icons, including Steven Spielberg among dozens of others, buzzing for months now.”
Special events include the Taste of the Islands Opening Night Twilight Reception at the Fairmont Kea Lani’s Palm Court, free nightly Star Shows, Starry Night MoonDance at Tommy Bahama’s, Taste of Chocolate at the Four Seasons Resort, Taste of Wailea, filmmaker panels and tributes to Joan Allen, Patricia Clarkson and Jessica Biel. So get to it. This thing only runs from June 14-18.
[Special thanks to Samantha Campos, Heidi King and Corey “The Haiku Poet” Nielson for putting together all our great film capsules.]
Justin Long stars as a teenager who finds a unique way to outsmart his parents. Not rated/90 min.
AMONGST WHITE CLOUDS
A documentary of Buddhist practitioners seeking enlightenment in the Zhongnan Mountains of China. Not rated/88 min.
Real footage and information about the dwindling reef zones. Not rated/23 min.
BEFORE THE MUSIC DIES
A documentary in which the filmmakers crisscross the country talking with music fans, music writers, music critics and musicians about the state of American music. Not rated/90 min.
THE BIG BAD SWIM
An unlikely group find themselves all together in the same beginner’s swim class. Surprisingly, they find unique friendships and life lessons at the pool. Not rated/93 min.
A BLACK & WHITE WORLD
Psychedelic film/Man tries to change for woman/Good luck with that, pal
A documentary looking into the details of “black gold,” or coffee. Farmers get about 23 cents per kilo. That same kilo generates approximately $230. My calculations say there’s something wrong here. Not rated/78 min.
BURNING MAN: BEYOND BLACK ROCK
A documentary about the Burning Man Festival in Nevada where extremely 30,000 open-minded people gather to share food, music, self-expression and bodily fluids in the Nevada desert. Not rated/105 min.
Surfing documentary directed by TJ Barrack and Wes Brown. In 2002, legendary waverider Mickey Dora challenged surfers to return to surf’s simple beginnings. Dora is now gone, but three California surfers (Robert “Wingnut” Weaver, Mickey “Mongoose” Munoz and Marc Andreini) accept the challenge, riding the world’s fastest, longest waves in South Africa on wooden boards with no leashes or wetsuits in bite-yer-ass-cold water. Not rated/55 min.
A CIGAR AT THE BEACH
A man sits on the beach, smoking a cigar and contemplating life, impervious to a fast-approaching storm. Apparently his thoughts are revealed as fantasies, giving the viewer an inside look at the male mind. Be glad they didn’t use my mind, people!
Sounds like a suspense/About a mother and son/Paging Doctor Freud!
All neighborhood activity stops when the residents catch an earful of a young violinist’s skills. He’s apparently very, very good. Sort of like a young Willie K. Not rated/11 min.
CONVERSATIONS WITH OTHER WOMEN
Everyone knows wedding receptions are prime scenes for unattached guests to mingle, flirt and perhaps consummate a spontaneous romantic alliance. Something about all that champagne, taffeta and vows gets the ole passion wheels turnin’, I guess. But in the case of one man (Aaron Eckhart) and one woman (Helena Bonham Carter), that sexual scenario is played out in all its shocking dualistic glory—and on two split screens. Not rated/84 min.
A CRUDE AWAKENING: THE OIL CRASH
An explanation to the value of oil and our downward spiral if we remain so dependent upon it. Not rated/90 min.
DIGITAL SHORTS SHOWCASE
Fumi and the Bad Luck Foot; Kind of a Blur; The Mantis Parable; The McPassion; A Black & White World; Coming Home; Garden of Eden; Revisited; Topor and Me
DO YOU WANT THE ELEPHANT MUSIC
Documentary about the lives of circus performers, in turn, revealing the strangeness of life itself. Not rated/17 min.
THE FAN AND THE FLOWER
“Sweet and simple” black and white love story between a ceiling fan and a flower, narrated by Paul Giamotti. Probably not likely to hear him say, “I’m not drinking any fucking merlot!” again (dang!), but a winner of multiple awards, including Grand Prize at the San Francisco International Animated Film Association.
An animated heart-warmer about a businessman and a bird that teach each other how to fly.
Harold Lloyd’s most popular silent film—he plays a young man so excited about college he gets sort of freakishly into it. Filmed in 1925. Not rated/76 min.
FUMI AND THE BAD LUCK FOOT
Poor Fumi has a foot/Unlucky it seems to be/Foot becomes hero!
FYI: FILM YOUR ISSUE SEMI-FINALISTS
These 30 to 60-second films deal with controversial issues. Not rated/35 min.
GARDEN OF EDEN, REVISITED
Eden has script flipped/Eve becomes the first human/Now it’s not man’s fault!
THE GATHERING: RETURN OF THE
Indigenous elders from around the world struggle against a multi-national oil company. Not rated/90 min.
THE GIANT BUDDHAS
Tells the tale of the history and events leading up to the two tallest images of Buddha being blown apart by the Taliban. Not rated/95 min.
Harold Lloyd plays a stuttering bachelor who falls for a girl about to marry the wrong man. Filmed in 1925. Not rated/82 min.
Speaking of San Francisco, where else can you carpool with three transvestites and a garden gnome? (God, I miss that city). In Gnome, that’s where! Bonus: includes an actual moral about looking past appearances.
Five boyhood friends reunite to celebrate the last days of bachelorhood for one of their own. Stars Edward Burns, John Leguizamo and Brittany Murphy. Not Rated/99 min.
A sequel—of sorts—to the original Guard Dog, which received an Oscar nomination. Only now the guard dog has become a guide dog, much like the burned-out cop who used to patrol my high school as a security guard.
HAWAI’I SLAM: POETRY IN PARADISE
Follows four local youths in 2004 as they represent Hawai’i in at the Slam Nationals. Not rated/62 min.
HEART OF THE GAME
College Professor, Bill Resler, takes on a coaching position for girls’ basketball. See what happens when they are treated as athletes who happen to be female rather than female athletes. Not rated/97 min.
Native American storyteller, Willy Whitefeather, speaks of the two paths facing the people of this planet. Not rated/8 min.
Edward Norton and Jessica Biel star in a romance full of magic. When his lover is claimed by the Prince, a young man builds his life around getting back to her. Not rated/110 min.
Al Gore fronts this documentary on global warming, a subject Gore has been pursuing since his college days in the 1960’s. “Is it possible that we should prepare against other threats besides terrorists?” asks Gore about the environmental crises that could create 100 million refugees in the span of a mere decade. Intriguing, given President Bush’s response when asked if he’ll see the film: “Doubt it.” Not rated/95 min.
Jack and Jill have a baby that literally does not stop crying. Not rated/10 min.
KIND OF A BLUR
Sandra Oh and man/Wake up faded on mountain/Cow with graffiti
THE LAKE HOUSE
Somehow, Alex and Kate are communicating through a two-year time gap. Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock together again to pull at your heartstrings. Not rated/90 min.
LETTING GO: KELLY SLATER
You know those cool music documentaries where they take you behind the scenes and backstage as some rock band goes on tour? Well, this is kinda like that, only it’s with surf god Kelly Slater, as he hits the road to win (or not) his seventh world title. Witness the ripping of barrels, the popping of champagne, and the screaming of girls. Not rated/104 min.
THE MANTIS PARABLE
Pixar and Aesop/Made love and had cool baby/Like Brangelina
Documents our national debt. Also addresses personal financial debt and the tricks the credit companies use to trap you. Not rated/86 min.
Ray Croc would be mad/Yet another shot at him/If he weren’t dead now
An elderly man, who looks a lot like former Negro League baseball legend Buck O’Neill, finds himself walking to the funerals of his two best friends. Along the way, he thinks he may like to die himself.
A computer-generated animation with motion-capture flick (by way of The Polar Express) starring the voices of Steve Buscemi, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jon Heder and Catherine O’Hara, and produced by Steven Spielberg and Robert Zemeckis, about a boy who lives across the street from a live, hungry, angry “she”-house. PG/90 min.
NEVER LIVE ABOVE A PSYCHIC
The star of this one is the intricate, hand-drawn animation that narrates a slightly bizarre story about the downstairs neighbors’ kids attempt to punk their upstairs brethren using their mother’s crystal ball. Filmed on location in Paia—kidding!
Turk Pipin’s film in which scholars throughout the world discuss the future of humanity and the planet, and possible solutions. Not rated/85 min.
THE OH IN OHIO
Parker Posey and Paul Rudd star as a couple that has recently moved to Ohio and have a problem. The woman in the relationship hasn’t climaxed in 10 years. Not rated/91 min.
When a Rasta man falls for a Gospel singing girl, the Christian/Rastafarian cultural divide resembles that of Romeo and Juliet’s story. Not rated/96 min.
OUR OWN PRIVATE BIN LADEN
After watching the World Trade Center collapse, Samira Goetschel goes on a mission to understand how and why it happened. Not rated/63 min.
Crack climbers (hehe) free climb the sandstone spires of Indian Creek, Utah hundreds of feet into the sky. Not rated/45 min.
PASSING THE GIFT: MALAMA HONOKOWAI
A documentary that proves developers and community conservationists can work together to preserve the history and culture in Maui. Not rated/46 min.
An animated short that resembles a crazy dream, it’s made up of over 4,000 handmade collages based on the 1887 technical drawings of Eadweard Muybridge. Not rated/10 min.
A paralyzed man windsurfs from Maui to Molokai. Not rated/20 min.
THE REFUGEE ALL STARS
A band of musicians, born from the refugees of the civil war (1991-2002) in West Africa’s Sierra Leone, travel to camps throughout neighboring Guinea, playing impassioned concerts that inspire displaced people to rise above their circumstances and excel. Not rated/80 min.
RETURN TO TIBET: DESTINATION MOUNT KALISH
Kris Kristofferson narrates this documentary. A man that fled Tibet at age 22 travels back to reunite with his family 40 years later. Not rated/86 min.
Each year, Travis goes into the woods to meet up with Rose, his best friend, on the one day she comes back to relive her last hours. How can he free her? Will he? Not rated/34 min.
Filmed in 1923, Harold Lloyd is accident-prone, to say the least. How does one end up hanging from a clock tower anyway? Not rated/82 min.
Follow Sofia Mulanovich, a native Peruvian girl who broke the gender boundaries at 9 to become the first South American of either sex to win a World Title in professional surfing. Not rated/54 min.
SOUND OF THE SOUL: FEZ FESTIVAL OF WORLD MUSIC
A gathering of some of the world’s most spiritually uplifting music, along with religious leaders and scholars, that takes place in the Moroccan city of Fez every summer for eight days and nights. Not rated/70 min.
SPECIAL SURPRISE SCREENING
You’ll just have to wait and see. Not Rated/90 min.
Another Slam documentary, this one follows East and West Coasters as they battle at the National Poetry Slam Competition. Not rated/94 min.
35MM SHORTS SHOWCASE
First Flight; The Fan and the Flower; Gnome; Jellybaby; Monsieur Etienne; Never Live Above a Psychic; Wait; Common Practice; Guide Dog; Phantom Canyon; A Cigar at the Beach; Topor and Me.
TOPOR AND ME (TOPOR ET MOI)
Sex goddess to art/Seems an odd transformation/Liz Wuertzel backwards
Chris Eigeman plays Jake, a prep-school teacher who recently has a new love interest. Jake also has a therapist that seems to be making him worse off than better. The lady in his life has her own drama, being recently widowed and amidst the process of adopting the child she has grown to love. Not rated/86 min.
UP ON THE ROPE
Infatuation/Is the basis of this tale/Hostess bar movie?
Maggie is a waitress in an upscale restaurant. When a man comes in that reminds her of her college boyfriend, she goes looking for her lost love. Not rated/16 min.
Three National Guardsmen are filmed as they head to Iraq. Not rated/97 min.
Set in India in the 1930’s, the film examines the life of a group of widows forced to live in a temple in the holy city of Varanasi. PG-13/98 min.