The first film ever copyrighted was a five-second clip called Fred Ott’s Sneeze. And that’s all it was: a grainy image of a guy (Fred Ott, an employee of inventor Thomas Edison) sneezing. That was 1894. Flash forward 116 years and movie magic has reached a point—IMAX, 3-D, high-def home theater systems—that would have left 19th century moviegoers in a state of apoplectic shock. Yet for all the technological advances, many Hollywood blockbusters haven’t progressed too far past Fred Ott’s Sneeze in the plot department. Thankfully, there are filmmakers who embrace script, character and nuanced narrative, making movies that entertain, enthrall and even enlighten. Each year, the Maui Film Festival brings a collection of these cinematic gems to our isolated isle, giving local film buffs a chance to revel in the eclectic wonders of this incredible storytelling medium, while also partaking in food, entertainment and a night under the South Maui stars. This year’s MFF slate is perhaps the most diverse in the festival’s history, a mix of genres that truly offers something for everyone—sneeze enthusiasts possibly excepted.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 16
Waste Land (6pm, Castle Theater)
The world’s largest garbage heap—in Rio De Janeiro—is the staging ground for this award-winning doc. Fortunately not presented in smell-o-vision. Plays with Poi Dogs, an acclaimed 12-minute short from Maui-bred filmmaker Joel Moffett. NR, 90 min.
Cancer to Capricorn: The Path of the Modern Gypsy
(8pm, Castle Theater)
World-class surfers traverse the titular Tropics in search of epic waves. Thankfully has nothing to do with astrology. Plays with Green, a sparsely edited, dialogue-free 48-minute doc about the beautiful, threatened forests of Borneo. NR, 44 min.
Bran Nue Dae (8pm, Celestial Cinema)
An Australian musical comedy inspired by both Hollywood and Aboriginal culture. Shrimps, barbies and Paul Hogan not included. PG, 88 min.
Home (10pm, Celestial Cinema)
If a balmy Maui evening isn’t enough to make you appreciate nature, try this: an hour-and-a-half of stunning aerial footage, culled from three years of shooting in 54 countries. A message about our imperiled planet is mixed in, but the eye candy makes it go down easier. NR, 78 min.
THURSDAY, JUNE 17
Tapped (5pm, Castle Theater)
Are you drinking bottled water? Stop! So says this doc, which explores how Americans have been sold on the idea that their tap water is full of poison, and how big corporate plastic bottle makers might actually be ensuring this is true by pumping toxins into the ground. Still thirsty? NR, 76 min.
Ho’okele Wa’a (7pm Castle Theater)
A Maui-made doc about some local enviro movers and shakers and the good, essential work they’re doing. Stars Charlie Jencks and Everett Dowling. Just kidding. Plays with Green. NR, 57 min.
Castles in the Sky
(8pm, Celestial Cinema)
Funny/thrilling surf doc follows a crew of characters from Africa to Vietnam to India to…Iceland? Plays with Birthright, a moving 6-minute short about a paralyzed man rekindling his relationship with the ocean. NR, 124 min.
Sex Magic: Manifesting Maya
(9pm, Castle Theater)
Leave the keiki at home for this exploration of tantric sex and all its in-and-out-of-the bedroom complications. NR, 80 min.
Rock Steady: The Roots of Reggae (10pm, Celestial Cinema)
Old footage and new are melded in this doc/concert film that traces the genesis of Jamaica’s most successful (musical) export. Plays with Birthright. NR, 98 min.
FRIDAY, JUNE 18
Blood Into Wine (4pm, Castle Theater)
You may know Maynard James Keenan—the subject of this singular character study—as the prog rocker who’s played with Tool and A Perfect Circle. What you may not know is that he’s also a winemaker, growing grapes in the harsh-yet-fertile deserts of Arizona. And he doesn’t even drink. Seriously. NR, 100 min.
Queen of the Sun (6pm, Castle Theater)
Like so many things, we never appreciated bees until they started disappearing. This doc, which explores the pollen-spreading insects and their plight, has been generating a lot of buzz. Sorry. NR, 83 min.
Hana Surf Girls (8pm, Castle Theater)
Bucolic East Maui takes center stage in this self-explanatory yet wholly revealing doc starring Monyca Byrne Wickey and Lipoa Kahaleuahi. NR, 83 min.
Nowhere Boy (8pm, Celestial Cinema)
Biopic about the misspent youth of a Liverpool lad named John Lennon who grew up to form some band. Plays with The Happiest Man Alive, a 14-minute short about a dude who stabs himself in the chest before work. And you thought your job was lousy. R, 98 min.
Norman (10pm, Celestial Cinema)
A high school kid fights angst and loneliness, unaware, apparently, that he’s in the company of every other high school kid ever. Plays with The Happiest Man Alive. NR, 120 min.
The Freebie (11:45pm, Celestial Cinema)
A seemingly happy marriage runs off the rails in this searingly honest, partially improvised drama. A date film only for very secure couples. R, 80 min.
SATURDAY, JUNE 19
The Tillman Story (4pm, Castle Theater)
When Pat Tillman left a lucrative NFL career to go fight in Afghanistan, it seemed like a recruiting poster come to life. Then came his death from “friendly fire” and the ensuing cover-up. Now comes this documentary, which goes in search of answers. NR, 94 min.
The Concert (6pm, Castle Theater)
European export about an orchestral reunion that packs more intrigue than you’d imagine. Plays with the sensually stunning French short Malban. NR, 119 min.
(8pm, Castle Theater)
An understandably bitter, paraplegic LA DJ reaches for salvation. Whellchair-bound Christopher Thornton wrote the script and stars; co-stars include Mark Ruffalo, Orlando Bloom and Juliette Lewis. Plays with Urs, a 10-minute animated short from Germany. NR, 100 min.
Happy Thank You More Please
(8pm, Celestial Cinema)
A New York lothario has his life turned upside down in this quick-witted comedy. Like a Woody Allen flick, except the “lothario” bit. Plays with God of Love, an 18-minute short about a dart-throwing lounge singer. NR, 100 min.
Cherry (10pm, Celestial Cinema)
A virginal teen simultaneously embarks on his college and sexual educations. So yeah, it’s that
kind of cherry. Plays with God
of Love. NR, 99 min.
SUNDAY, JUNE 20
442 (1:30pm, Castle Theater)
The mostly untold story of the Japanese-American unit that withstood heavy casualties and exhibited remarkable bravery in WWII, even as their families were placed in internment camps back home. In English and Japanese with English subtitles. NR, 97 min.
This Way of Life (4pm, Castle Theater)
Doc contrasts the stunning beauty of New Zealand with the harsh lives of its subjects, who make Frodo look like a pansy. Plays with the surreal animated short Sam’s Hot Dogs. NR, 84 min.
Cyrus (8pm, Castle Theater) Your classic tale of boy (John C. Reilly) meets girl (Marisa Tomei) and girl’s strange adult son (Jonah Hill). Weirdest love triangle ever. R, 97 min.
Boy (8pm, Celestial Cinema)
A Maori youth chooses two questionable role models—Michael Jackson and his absent father—in this quirky-but-heartfelt New Zealand export. NR, 87 min.
Last Paradise (10pm, Celestial Cinema)
Another New Zealand flick, this one composed of four decades of footage featuring extreme sport pioneers doing their thing in extremely unspoiled surroundings. Plays with Stones, a 20-minute short from Hawaii filmmaker Ty Sanga.
Shining Star Award
(Wednesday, June 16,
8pm, Celestial Cinema)
Depending on whether you’re a preteen girl or everybody else, your response to this one will likely be, “OMG! OMG! OMG!” or, “huh?” Not to disparage Efron; he’s clearly good at what he does—being an affable, inoffensive teen idol, lucrative Disney marketing tool and ubiquitous pop culture force. Even if you haven’t seen High School Musical, you’ve seen High School Musical. But for a festival that has, in the past, generally chosen its honorees based on acting or directing ability rather than star wattage, this is a bit of a head-scratcher. Then again, here we are talking about it, so maybe that’s the point. Perhaps we should just embrace our inner 12-year-old and roll with the OMG.
(Thursday, June 17, 8pm,
Steele is at the festival because he directed Castles in the Sky, but this honor goes much deeper than that. For nearly two decades, Steele has been riding the lip of the surf doc world, churning out award-winning—and genre-stretching—films that embrace the dreamy essence of the sport and celebrate the hardworking slackers who populate it. And he’s maintained his indie cred, with his own production company (Poor Specimen) and a commitment to showcasing undiscovered or up-and-coming talent, both on the waves and on his soundtracks (he’s credited with featuring the music of Jack Johnson before it was blaring out of every tiki hut and ABC Store). A recent review of Castles in the Sky in Surfer magazine summed up the appeal of Steele’s films: “The lack of inscribed clutter frees the viewer to focus on the beauty of the landscapes, people, and surfing…people who know nothing of the industry, and don’t care what the surfers’ names are, can still appreciate the film for is visual elegance.”
There’s more to film festivals than merely watching movies. Festivals like Cannes, Telluride and Tribeca have virtual worlds revolving around them, and ours is no different. In addition to celluloid creations, the Maui Film Festival plays host to some of the most elaborate and well-attended Maui foodie parties on the island, parties created specifically for the festival-goers.
Wailea provides the perfect backdrop for these social affairs; it’s both gorgeous and posh, boasting South Maui’s prestigous resorts and some of the island’s most upscale dining establishments. The MFF’s official beer is Stella Artois, and you’ll see it served thoughout.
The big kickoff is held on Wednesday, with the Opening Twilight Reception. All the celebs and dignitaries swirl around, enjoying the seven-station live cooking featuring fresh local ingredients at Capische? where Executive Chef Brian Etheredge and his team show off their impeccable talent.
The festival’s next two events, held on Friday and Saturday, are divine culinary experiences. First find chocolate nirvana at Taste of Chocolate, the only event of its kind on Maui. The Four Seasons’ Ocean Terrace Lawn is transformed into a haven of exotic chocolate fantasy. Dip, grind and devour your way through chocolate creme chiboust, liquid nitrogen chocolate sorbet, chocolate mousse and peanut butter and chocolate cake, set to the backdrop of live music by INDIO.
On Saturday, wile away the warm afternoon and watch the spectacular sunset from the birds-eye perch on the greens at the Wailea Gold and Emerald golf courses, while enjoying a showcase of the flavors of Wailea along with specialty wines from Southern Wine and Spirits and martinis by Ocean vodka. Eight stations representing the culinary prowess of Wailea’s Matteo’s, Mulligan’s on the Blue, Duo, Spago, Mala Wailea, Joe’s, Gannon’s, Nick’s Fishmarket, Humuhumunukunukuapua’a and Capische? will be manned by the executive chefs and their staff. It’s like going to dinner and getting to order from ten different restaurants—come ready to taste! DJ Ged will be spinning.
Opening Night Twilight Reception At Capische?
WHEN: Wednesday, June 16,5:30-7:30pm
WHERE: Capische? at Hotel Wailea
Capische? owner and award winning chef Brian Etheredge will wow attendees with truly unique, inventive and delicious selections complimented by refreshing Stella Artois beer, the Official Beer of the 2010 Maui Film Festival, Ocean vodka cocktails and Hawaiian Springs Water, the official water of the 2010 Maui Film Festival. Feel the romance while enjoying the spectacular sunset view. Live music special surprise, $120 Advance, $150 as of June 16, if available. Includes admission to Wednesday Celestial Cinema.
Starry Night Moondance
WHEN: Wednesday, June 16, 10pm-1am
WHERE: Tommy Bahama Tropical Cafe at Shops at Wailea
Known as the festival’s hottest dance party, attendees will enjoy appetizers from the kitchen of Tommy Bahama’s Topical Café, complemented by libations courtesy of Tommy Bahama Rum and Stella Artois and hydrated by Hawaiian Springs Water. Dance Music by DJ Mattnifique. $60 Advance, $75 as of June 16, if available. You must be over 21 to attend this event.
Taste Of Chocolate At Four Seasons Resort Maui At Wailea
WHEN: Friday, June 18, 10pm-Midnight
WHERE: Ocean Terrace Lawn at Four Seasons Maui
Maui Film Festival’s over-the-top event for chocolate lovers. Attendees will enjoy many decadent chocolate treats including liquid nitrogen chocolate sorbet, baked chocolate mousse, chocolate olive panini and white chocolate Grand Marnier cheesecake, while they discover the sweet side of the island. Live Music by INDIO. $120 advance, $150 as of June 16, if available. Includes admission to Friday Celestial Cinema
Taste Of Wailea – Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course
Presented by the Culinary Artists of Wailea
WHEN: Saturday, June 19, 4:30-7pm
WHERE: Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Courses
The crown jewel of Maui Film Festival’s culinary arts celebrations, Taste of Wailea will be presented by Wailea resorts’ most celebrated chefs and restaurants, complemented by an engagingly robust and delicate assortment of fine wines, refreshing Stella Artois on draft, exotic Maui-tinis from Ocean Vodka and Hawaiian Springs Water. $95 advance, $120 at the door if available. Ticket price includes admission to Saturday Celestial Cinema. Due to liquor laws, no one under 21 years of age will be admitted to this event. Free shuttles from all Wailea resort hotels and Wailea special event parking area.
For more info and links, visit MauiTime’s events blog www.mauivents.com