Categorized | Entertainment, Featured

BIFF slate includes 10 Hawaii films

(Photo courtesy of Superfreako Productions)

Finn Gallagher | Hawaii 24/7 Student Reporter
and Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Mayor Billy Kenoi welcomes the filmmakers and Big Island Film Festival attendees at the opening reception held at the Fairmont Orchid Resort. Photo by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

Mayor Billy Kenoi welcomes the filmmakers and Big Island Film Festival attendees at the opening reception held at the Fairmont Orchid Resort. Photo by Baron Sekiya | Hawaii 24/7

The sixth Big Island Film Festival kicked off Wednesday evening with the mayor’s reception and a screening of several short films.

The 63 films include 10 from Hawaii, plus one from a pair of Hilo brothers.

Chad Kukahiko and his brother Denton presented their short film ‘carefully descending’ to a crowd of about 150 movie buffs Wednesday evening at The Shops at Mauna Lani.

“We’re only screening it at two film festivals, then it’ll go straight on the website,” Kukahiko said. “I’m really proud to bring it back to share with my family and friends. My sister and her family are here and I really hope they like it.”

The crowd did like it and gave it a big round of applause.

To celebrate the West U.S. premiere of “carefully descending,” Superfreako Productions has launched the web site – the real-life story of Superfreako Productions told online as it unfolds.

Kukahiko started his company, Superfreako Productions, in 2007 in Los Angeles and serves mostly as writer/director. His brother Denton is the cameraman and girlfriend Kendall Hawley produces their projects.

He said the company has one simple goal: to tell great stories well, and do so efficiently, honestly and inexpensively.

The company name “superfreako” is an play on the surname of two of the three founders, “Kukahiko” which means “to stand in the old ways.” This meaning and the Hawaiian ancestry of all three founders is something they hold sacred by trying to make the world a better place through stories created for all types of screens.

He is a 1990 graduate from Kamehameha School and one of the first American cast members of the Off-Broadway hit STOMP, but has stopped performing and started concentrating on filmmaking.

The trio currently is working on dozens of projects and hope to be back at the film festival next year.

Writer/Director Brian Kohne

Writer/Director Brian Kohne

Among other filmmakers in attendance this week are Jeremy Johnson and Brian Kohne.

Johnson is a student at Uniersity of Hawaii Manoa and currently is studying at the university’s Academy for Creative Media.

He introduced his film “Mute,” which he said was inspired by his deaf cousin trying out for the football team at his high school.

“I really just want to be a voice for deaf people,” Johnson said.

One of the films many are looking forward to is Kohne’s “Get A Job.”

It tells the story of a local Hawaiian in the 21st century and the obstacles he faces adjusting to the atmosphere around him.

“Film is the most powerful story telling,” Kohne said.

Kohne said he hopes his film helps create a self-sustaining film industry in Hawaii.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa gets his photo taken at the opening reception.

Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa gets his photo taken at the opening reception.

The Big Island Film Festival is doing its part to help bolster the film industry

Big Island Film Commissioner John Mason said this year’s festival feels different. Mason has been the film commissioner for five years and has watch the event grow.

“This film festival has grown substantially” Mason said. “It takes time to make a profit in this business but I sense turning point.”

Mayor Billy Kenoi said the film festival is good for the island on many different levels.

“It’s great for the Big Island, not just in an economic dollars and cents way. It does bring business to the island, but it also exposes lots of film makers to the Big Island,” he said.

“Think what Peter Jackson and his ‘Lord of the Rings’ movie did for New Zealand,” Kenoi said. “This festival is great way to show filmmakers what we have to offer. The Big Island is where its at and Hawaii has the potential to be the next big movie-making place.”

The festival features the following selections from Big Island filmmakers:

* “Hawaii’s Undersea Ohana,” Hawaiian proverbs put to music, includes a segment filmed on Niihau, by Fasano Underwater Productions, Charles Fasano.

* “Alison’s Adventures: Snaked,” a surf adventure to Morocco, Alison Tea Productions.

* “Sproot,” reduced and directed by Loring Robbins, is a whimsical animation about telekinetic power and personal strength

* “The Pick-Up Artist,” two people meet in a bar, but are they who they seem to be? Beckwood Entertainment, producer/director/writer: Rockwood.

* “Waterfall,” loss and grief, embraced by nature. Keyland Productions, Braide Keyland producer, director and writer.

* “Get a Job,” written and directed by Brian Kohne, is an outrageous comedy with an all-star lineup of top Hawaii entertainers including Willie K, Eric Gilliom, Augie T, Jake Shimabukuro, Carolyn Omine, Slam Poet Kealoha, Ernie Cruz, Jr., Amy Hanaialii, Mick Fleetwood, Pat Simmons, Charles Kaupu, Willie Nelson, and Henry Kapono (who headlines BIFF’s “Best of the Fest” concert May 15).

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