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Maui says 'Aloha' to film festival

Maui Film Festival
The Maui Film Festival showcases 50 films.


(iNews) -- You may have to excuse attendees of the Maui Film Festival if they were a little distracted while watching some of the movies.

"Look at the wind, and how the sun sets, and the ocean and nature, it's beautiful here. I think I'm lucky to be here," says actress Bei Ling of the festival's location.

Maui's main festival venue sat in an ideal setting and took place June 11 - June 15 this year. The stars and moon hanging in the night sky above a sparkling ocean created a surreal tropical movie viewing experience. This might explain why this four-year-old festival is attracting attention from folks in the movie business.

It was all the idea of Maui businessman Barry Rivers: "We're in a beautiful place and we wanted to take advantage of that. The festival is serious ... and is being seen by the industry and as that now. And the films sort of step up to that mark."

Maui is considerably smaller than the better known Sundance and Cannes film festivals. Both screen hundreds of films each year, and feature dozens of big name stars. Maui screens only 50 films, and a handful of big names, like actress Geena Davis and director Rob Reiner.

"This is like no pressure. It's so relaxed, and everyone is, like they say, hanging loose. I mean Cannes is just a zoo, it's like a circus. You're just running around like a maniac," says Reiner.

With movies such as Reiner's "Alex and Emma" opening the festival, and several critically acclaimed movies on the bill, Maui is earning respect. Last year's festival featured relative-unknown actor Adrien Brody, who went on to win an Oscar.

This year, actor John Malkovich made his directorial debut with "The Dancer Upstairs," and writer/director Chen Kaige, the man behind the movie, "Farewell My Concubine," brought to the festival his latest film titled, "Together."

The festival -- not only a gathering of good movies, but also a boom to the local economy -- is where cinema meets the surf under the stars; with an island paradise as host and Hollywood as its guest.

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