EuroCinema Hawaii, "a festival within a festival," spotlights the Continent with its eight-film debut
POSTED: 01:30 a.m. HST, Oct 10, 2010
To put it simply, Princess Dialta Alliata di Montereale will tell you, Europe is misunderstood. Especially in Hawaii, where too many people — too many young people — view it entirely through the lens of fashion.
But the Italian princess, who has lived in Honolulu for 11 years, saw a solution in film. It was the reason she got behind EuroCinema Hawaii, a new film festival that will debut this week as part of the 30th annual Hawaii International Film Festival.
"I said to myself, it is time to spread a little European culture, to help people go to the cinema to see films with subtitles and European languages and make a little effort to see all the European countries," she said. "There is so much more to Europe than just fashion houses."
EuroCinema Hawaii will screen eight films, including the Hawaii premiere of the thriller "The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" (9:30 p.m. Oct. 21, Regal Dole Cannery Stadium 18) and Martin Scorsese's restoration of the classic 1963 film "The Leopard" (6:30 p.m. Oct. 18, Doris Duke Theatre).
The fledgling festival was created in mid-2009 and within a few months approached HIFF, said Jefferson Finney, president of the EuroCinema Hawaii board of directors.
"It's a great honor," he said. "They are established. They are the big dogs in the Pacific. In the film world it brings us instant legitimacy."
Finney feels the European films will add a "fresh look" to HIFF, which has shown them before but has had a reputation for Asian and Pacific films. Audiences accustomed to U.S. films will be surprised, he said.
"They don't have a rat-a-tat-tat ending," he said. "The film isn't sweetly surmised at the end. And while there are great American films that are not always predictable, many of them are. But European films have a quirky freshness."
European films have always been popular at HIFF, but having "a festival within a festival," something common at the world's great venues, such as Cannes and Berlin, will add to HIFF's reputation, said Anderson Le, HIFF's director of programing.
"Even though HIFF is an international film festival, a lot of people think of us as an Asian film festival or a Pacific Rim festival," Le said. "And while we have always shown European films, this puts a special spotlight on them."
"The Leopard," known in Italian as "Il Gattopardo," should be a big audience draw, Le said. Directed by Luchino Visconti and starring Burt Lancaster, "The Leopard" has been described by HIFF as "an epic on the grandest scale possible." It will be screened at the Doris Duke Theatre.
Lancaster plays an aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a rising middle-class society. Considered a cinematic masterpiece, the restored version premiered earlier this year at Cannes.
"It is going to be a big draw because it is something unique," Le said. "HIFF doesn't really show classic older films."
"The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest" is also expected to draw audiences. It's the final chapter in Stieg Larsson's "Millennium Trilogy," which has generated huge box office success worldwide. Producer Chris Lee, former head of Columbia/TriStar and a founder of the University of Hawaii's Academy for Creative Media, calls it "a great get."
But Lee, who is also a member of the EuroCinema Hawaii board, likes the rest of the lineup, which also includes seven student films from the academy that are competing for a $1,000 prize.
"I am really excited about being able to present this lineup of films that have never been shown here before and might never come back," he said. "But that's what festivals are all about. They're about seeing films you are not going to see at Ward Theaters. They're for people who love movies."
The minifestival's top prize is named for the princess, who said she hopes the event will be back next year.
"This is our first year, and we are starting very humble and very small with only eight films," she said. "I consider this the luxury selection of films within HIFF. We hope next year there will be nine. The year after that, maybe 10. We hope to grow."