Hawaiʻi International Film Festival (HIFF) is the premiere showcase for established and emerging filmmakers in contemporary Asian, Pacific, and North American cinema. HIFF is the focus for emerging works from the Pacific Rim and an incubator for Native Hawaiian films and indigenous Pacific filmmakers in any genre, including feature films, documentaries, short films, series, and Hawai’i-themed films.
HIFF serves as an entertaining event for the casual viewer and ardent film lovers, as well as a creative hub for filmmakers. In addition to film screenings, the Festival schedule includes panels and seminars, such as the annual Sound x Vision seminar examining music in film, and discussion opportunities for local filmmakers and content creators.
Through the diverse films presented each year, HIFF seeks to enrich, enlighten, and broaden support for Asian and Pacific films and Hawaii’s multi-cultural audience.
HIFF started as a project of the East-West Center at the University of Hawai’i Manoa campus in Honolulu. In 1981, HIFF’s inaugural year, the program consisted of seven films from six countries which were viewed by an audience of 5,000.
Since that first year, HIFF has become a premiere cinematic event, now attracting more than 50,000 film enthusiasts from around the state, the nation, and throughout the world. It is one of the premier film festivals in the United States and the only festival spread across an archipelago. To date, more than 1.4 million people from throughout the world have shared HIFF film screenings and insights.
The Festival has premiered the screening of many acclaimed films, including Brokeback Mountain, Carol, Departures, Jojo Rabbit, Minari, Moonlight, Parasite, Roma, Shoplifters, The Host, The Imitation Game, and many more.
Many special guests have been welcomed at HIFF over the years, such as: Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai (In The Mood For Love, Chungking Express), Korean American actor Steven Yeun (Minari, Burning, The Walking Dead), New Zealand’s Jemaine Clement (Flight Of The Conchords) and Taika Waititi (Hunt For The Wilder People, What We Do In The Shadows, Thor: Ragnarok), Korean director Park Chan-Wook (Oldboy, The Handmaiden), Japanese actor Ken Watanabe (Letters From Iwo Jima, Last Samurai), and anime master Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Millennium Actress, Perfect Blue).
In addition, HIFF Education reaches more than 2,000 students across Hawai’i through year-round K – 12 programs. In partnership with HIFF, The Daniel K. Inouye Institute conducts a student short film contest to encourage creative exploration by youth under the age of 18. HIFF presents the works of student finalists in a special film showcase. The young and aspiring filmmakers also have the opportunity to engage with film industry leaders during the Festival. More info: HIFF | Daniel K. Inouye Institute (dkii.org)
The sister festival of HIFF, Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF), along with Shanghai Media and Entertainment Group (SMEG) participates in a cultural exchange program with students from Shanghai University visiting the HIFF Festival and the University of Hawai’i Academy for Creative Media.
HIFF 2021 Showcase Series
HIFF presents four premier spotlights of new independent and international cinema via HIFF’s streaming platform available at watch.hiff.org and on Apple TV, Roku, and Amazon TV devices.
- APRIL 15-25. INDIGENOUS LENS kicks off the HIFF Spring Season in April with the latest in First Peoples cinema from the Pacific and North America.
- MAY 13 – 23. J-FEST will present an eclectic mix of the latest in Japanese cinema, arguably our most popular section at HIFF.
- JUNE 10 – 20. Feast your eyes and senses with the best in culinary cinema with EAT.DRINK.FILM!
- JULY 8 – 18. VIVE LE CINÉMA, a celebration of the latest films by emerging filmmakers in French cinema.
As in 2020, this year’s 41st Annual Hawaiʻi International Film Festival will be a hybrid event. Screenings, events, Q&As, and talks, will take place in (limited) theaters, as well as outdoors, virtually, and streaming online across the U.S.
- Submitted films must have been completed after January 1, 2019. HIFF is allowing films that were produced in the last two years due to the impact of the pandemic. Deadline for submission is May 21, 2021. More info: Hawaii International Film Festival – FilmFreeway
When: November 4-21, 2021.
Where: In-person in Honolulu, HI and online nationwide.
HIFF Tickets & Passes: 2021 prices were not announced last time we checked–we’ll update closer to the festival, or check their website.
Discount tickets: HIFF Members receive two (2) discounted tickets/passes to all in-person and HIFF Virtual Events, plus Early Access to purchase tickets and passes for the Festival. HIFF Membership begins at $40/year.
- Volunteers: receive screening vouchers, food & beverages, invites to festival activities, swag, and priceless experience. More info: Volunteer | Hawai’i International Film Festival (hiff.org)