HIFF returns to Maui November 18-19 with three feature films and a selection of short films: Maui Now

The Maui Arts & Cultural Center presents a return of the Hawai’i International Film Festival (HIFF) to Maui, presenting three films and a screening of six short films being screened at this year’s main festival at its home base on O’ahu.

All screenings will be held at MACC’s McCoy Studio Theater from Thursday 18th to Saturday 19th November. Tickets go on sale online only Wednesday, October 25 at 10 a.m. on MauiArts.org.

The Maui Selection will showcase films screened at the 39th edition of the HIFF main event, held November 3-13 on O’ahu, and will represent some of the finest filmmakers from across the Asia-Pacific region.

Full of insight and discovery, the HIFF is dedicated to promoting understanding and cultural exchange among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and North America by presenting films from around the world. Each year, more than 50,000 visitors throughout Hawaii experience the sounds and sights of filmmaking from approximately 45 countries. This cultural exchange, presented through the powerful medium of film, raises awareness of our similarities and differences alike.

Friday, Nov. 18 Film program:

Through the dog door | 7 p.m. | 90 minutes | English

Through the dog door. PC: Courtesy

Through the Doggy Door follows the story of Sheldon Paishon, a talented surfer who was born and raised on the rugged shores of O’ahu’s West Side. Far from an idyllic Hawaiian paradise, the community has been ravaged by drugs, poverty and the long aftermath of colonialism. At the age of 12, Sheldon’s parents lost their house and the family was left homeless, living in a tent for the rest of Sheldon’s youth. With a deep urge to overcome all odds and live his dream of surfing professionally, Sheldon struggles through the harsh reality of homelessness. Eventually, he is taken under the wing of popular pro surfer Mason Ho, who recognizes his immense talent and helps guide him through a world he has seen very little of. This film aims to stimulate and inspire a deeper conversation about the realities of homelessness, the fight against poverty in Hawaii, and the importance of confidence and willpower.


Film program Saturday, November 19:


my little country | 2 p.m. | 114 minutes | Japanese, Kurdish, Turkish (English subtitles)

my little country PC: Courtesy

Sarya has lived in Japan since she was five years old. She pretends to be German to her friends, which is easier than telling the truth. In reality, Sarya’s parents are Kurds who traveled to Japan as refugees from Turkey. She is also responsible for her younger siblings while her father works. Despite the difficulties, the future looks bright and soon Sarya will attend college. A tender relationship develops with her colleague Sota and her own feelings come to the fore. All Sarya wants is a normal life. However, when her father’s application for asylum is rejected, she is increasingly torn. A truly haunting film about a young refugee’s balancing act between two others in search of her own world.

My Small Land, the directorial debut of Emma Kawawada, a mentee of acclaimed Japanese author Hirokazu Koreeda (Nobody Knows, Shoplifters), is a nuanced film that explores issues of xenophobia and Japan’s impenetrable immigration laws while telling a heartfelt tale of the highs and Depths of growing up, falling in love and finding yourself.

MY LITTLE COUNTRY Trailer English subtitled. UK: GAGAIntl

Mālama ʻĀina Shorts program | 4:30 p.m. | Total running time of 133 minutes | English language

HIFF presents a selection of eco-conscious Hawaiian shorts that focus on protecting the environment right here at home. All of these shorts will also be screened online as part of the Green Screen Shorts Competition program and are eligible for the Deep Blue Environmental Shorts Award presented by the US Department of Energy’s Water Power Technologies Office.

Mālama ʻĀina shorts. PC: Courtesy

For the one who carries the sea like a malo | 5 Minutes – Directed by Richard Hamasaki

This film is dedicated to the poet Wayne Kaumualii Westlake (1947-1984). In 2009, the University of Hawaii Press published Westlake’s collection of poetry, Westlake, Poems by Wayne Kaumualii Westlake. My poem For He Who Wears the Sea Like a Malo was published in From the Spider Bone Diaries, Poems and Songs (University of Hawaii Press, 2001).

heart of Maui | 7 minutes – Directed by David Ehrenberg

Biologists Erika Kekiwi and Chris Warren work to save rare and endemic forest birds in Haleakalā National Park and show what would be lost if people didn’t act and stop this extinction event. A National Park Service film.

Kumu Niu | 15 minutes – Directed by Alex Cantatore


The island of O’ahu is covered in coconut trees, but for fear of liability, the vast majority of these sacred trees have been stripped of coconuts. The grassroots movement Niu Now is dedicated to restoring ‘niu’ or coconut as a staple food crop in Hawaii and spreading the indigenous wisdom of ‘aloha ‘āina’: loving land and serving people.

Nā Kama Kai – Children of the Ocean | 36 minutes – Directed by Ju Martins

A nonprofit organization’s mission to empower youth through ocean-based education with the goal of cultivating environmental stewardship and building future community leaders. As they travel to Brazil for their first international clinic, participants quickly realize the many ways in which the ocean connects us rather than divides us.

Ola Ka Honua | 22 minutes | 22 minutes – Directed by Jilli Rose

Over the past 25 years, thousands of Maui residents and visitors have volunteered in Auwahi, a storied forest on the leeward side of Haleakalā Volcano. Through their efforts, Auwahi has evolved from a “museum forest,” a handful of centuries-old ancestral trees in a cow pasture, to a vibrant young forest that is home to a critical portion of Hawaii’s biota.

The last rodeo | 33 mins | English, “Olelo Hawaii” – Directed by Liz Barney, Alison Week

As La’i Bertlemann prepares to graduate from high school, she contemplates whether to accept a full scholarship to a major mainland university or stay home in Hawaii to study her culture and spend time with her aging grandfather. As a direct descendant of a long line of paniolo, or Hawaiian cowboys, she has a unique opportunity to continue her family’s legacy, but the mainland has its own attractions. From her last high school rodeo competition to her family’s annual branding day in her ancestral home, The Last Rodeo examines what La’i risks losing if she decides to leave.

The principal presenting sponsor of HIFF 2019 is Halekulani Corporation and principal sponsors are the Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Hawaiian Airlines, Middle Management and Regal Entertainment Group.

The story of everything | 7:30 p.m. | 105 minutes | English

The story of everything. PC: Courtesy

The Story Of Everything, a theatrical performance written and conceived by Hawai’i Poet Laureate Kealoha and now a film produced and directed by the Engaging the Senses Foundation, illuminates the intersection of science, environment, art and mindfulness. The film explores humanity’s rich and varied explanations for the origin of life and presents powerful solutions for the continued health of the planet and all living beings on it.

At a time when we are faced with the knowledge that racism continues to expose people of color to a diminished quality of life and that the world itself is at risk from climate change, a project focuses on light, solutions and the instillation of hope Reason to celebrate. The Story Of Everything brings together poetry, dance, music, art and special effects to condense 13.7 billion years into one hour and 45 minutes, which asks and answers two questions that have challenged people from the start: “Where do we come from? ‘ And more importantly, ‘Where can we go next?’

Featuring Kealoha, Taimane and Kaui Kanakaole. Dancers Jamie Nakama, Jory Horn and Jonathan Clarke Sypert. Music by Taimane, Quadraphonix and Makana. Original artwork by Solomon Enos.

The Story of It All – Long Trailer

Ticket information:

Tickets for the Maui shows are $12 plus applicable fees and are only available online at MauiArts.org. The MACC Box Office will not be open for window transactions until the day of the show. It is open to inquiries by email only [email protected] and by calling 808-242-7469 Tuesday through Friday, 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Windows are open for call acceptance and the day of exhibit sales on Friday, November 18 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, November 11 at 4:00 p.m. Open at 11 a.m. Nov. 19

All films are unrated and film titles and showing times are subject to change. For more information on the HIFF and this year’s films, go to https://hiff.org/.

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