Top picks for next week’s Hawaii International Film Festival

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I’ve been a fan of the Hawaii International Film Festival for a while now, but this year’s lineup of films and guest appearances honestly looks like the best yet. Making appearances are Japanese superstar Ryoko Hirosue, Korean A-list actor Ha Jung Woo, actress Zoe Bell and many others. And the films themselves look even more stellar.

Here’s a quick preview of what I’m most looking forward to.

Tickets and information are available at

Also, keep an eye out for our HIFF Review Roundup coming next week, just before the Nov. 12 to 22 festival.


From the brilliant, twisted mind of filmmaker Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation,” “Being John Malkovich”) comes this stop-motion animated film about love and humanity voiced by David Thewlis and Jennifer Jason Leigh. If it’s anything like his previous films, I know it will be amazing.

Monday, Nov. 16 at 7:45 p.m., Dole Cannery

“It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong”

A film about two Americans who meet in the electric city of Hong Kong, starring real-life couple Bryan Greenberg and Jamie Chung. I love a film with great dialogue. This one looks like a great date movie.

Friday, Nov. 20 at 6:30 p.m., Dole Cannery

Sunday, Nov. 22 at 11:00 a.m., Koko Marina

“Kid Kulafu”

Manny Pacquiao was Hawaii’s favorite boxer before his defeat to Floyd Mayweather earlier this year. But despite that loss, Pacquiao remains an intriguing and original personality. “Kid Kulafu” takes a look at how Pac Man got to where he is today in what some people are calling a Pinoy “Rocky.”

Saturday, Nov. 21 at 4:30 p.m., Dole Cannery

Sunday, Nov. 22 at 2:30 p.m., Waimea Theater (Kauai)

Sunday, Nov. 22 at 5:00 p.m., Dole Cannery

“Midori in Hawaii”

Locally produced and shot primarily on the Big Island, “Midori in Hawaii” is a Japanese dramedy about two sisters exploring the island of Hawaii.

Saturday, Nov. 14 at 3:30 p.m., Dole Cannery

Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 6:00 p.m., Dole Cannery

Friday, Nov. 20 at 6:00 p.m., Hilo Palace Theater

“Seoul Searching”

What if John Hughes had made a film set in Korea? You’d get “Seoul Searching,” a teen comedy along the lines of “The Breakfast Club” and “Sixteen Candles” set in a Korean camp designed to educate Koreans around the globe about their native culture. Filmmaker and local boy Benson Lee is scheduled to appear at the screenings.

Wednesday, Nov. 18 at 8:15 p.m., Dole Cannery

Sunday, Nov. 22 at 5:00 p.m., Dole Cannery


I’m a sucker for all films by director Ryu Seung Wan. I just am. He has a way of directing Korean action films that not only display great action choreography, but have great stories as well. I’ll be first in line for this Korean blockbuster.

Friday, Nov. 20 at 6:00 p.m., Dole Cannery

Saturday, Nov. 21 at 5:30 p.m., Dole Cannery

“Pali Road”

A movie set in Hawaii and starring the coolest Asian actor of our time? Of course I’m going to watch “Pali Road.” Sung Kang (“Better Luck Tomorrow,” “Fast and Furious” films) stars along with “Lost” alum Henry Ian Cusick and Michelle Chen in this psychological drama set right here on Oahu.

Monday, Nov. 16 at 7:00 p.m., Dole Cannery

Saturday, Nov. 21 at 6:15 p.m., Dole Cannery