×

Surfs up at Maui Film Fest

Hawaiian event still draws auds

Putting on a film festival in paradise should be something of a joy ride, but apparently not in these budget-conscious days. As Barry Rivers, the impresario who founded the Maui Film Festival in 2000, says, times are tough, even where the sun always shines.

“Sponsorship has been a challenge for many film festivals everywhere in the last couple of years, and for us as well,” he says. “So we’ve had to cut back on a couple of venues, but all in all we have 29 features and 22 shorts this year. It’s a size we do feel comfortable at.”

And since the main venue of the 12th annual event is the huge outdoor Celestial Cinema, which they erect every year on the Wailea Golf Course, limited seating isn’t a problem. Neither is power. “We like to say our festival is ‘under the stars, lit by the moon and powered by the sun.’ We power that whole thing with solar power,” Rivers says. “This is the fourth year we have done that, and we take great pride in that.”

The fest, which over the years has drawn everyone from Clint Eastwood to Claire Danes to Maui’s beautiful shores, also takes pride in identifying and honoring up-and-coming film stars. But even that is not so simple.

“You’d be surprised, it isn’t as easy as you’d think to get luminaries — I don’t like the word ‘celebrities’ — to come to Maui for the festival. It’s not like we’re just a 100 miles from L.A. or something,” Rivers says. “It’s a long way to come.”

But he’s succeeded admirably in drawing four hot actors to be honored at this year’s celebration, as well as a film innovator. All will receive special awards during the June 15-19 run of the fest. The four — Megan Fox, Andrew Garfield, Olivia Wilde and Garrett Hedlund — are riding the crest of some very hot careers at the moment, while the fifth, filmmaker Jack McCoy, has pioneered a revolutionary filming technique in his opening-night history of surfing film “A Deeper Shade of Blue.”

“For years I have been sitting behind the waves filming, but I’ve been stationary,” McCoy says. “Now I use a machine called a SeaBob to move through the water. It is basically a battery with a computer in it, powered by a jet engine. It pulls me through the water. It weighs 150 pounds and is extremely dangerous. If I got caught by a wave or anything, I could get crushed. So I use that, and my high-definition camera, to get the action shots from under the water. With the SeaBob, I can do tracking and moving shots. It’s allowed me to get to places I couldn’t before and to do things a lot better.”

And while McCoy counts Paul McCartney as a pal who has offered his new song “Blue Sway” to be used in the movie, the director is a bit worried about receiving his Maui Film Festival Beacon Award the same night Fox is given the Iris Award for her “heartfelt respect for the environment.”

“I’m sure it’s a cruel joke that Barry Rivers has got me with Megan Fox!” McCoy says.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

  • Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Wins at

    Pedro Costa’s 'Vitalina Varela' Triumphs at Locarno Film Festival

    The 72nd Locarno Film Festival drew to a close Saturday with Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa’s dark and detached film “Vitalina Varela” coming away with several awards together with superlatives from segments of the hardcore cinephile crowd, including jury president Catherine Breillat. In announcing the Golden Leopard prize for the film, as well as best actress [...]

  • Vitalina Varela

    Locarno Film Review: 'Vitalina Varela'

    Frequently beautiful compositions and the theatrical use of a fierce kind of artifice have long been the hallmarks of Portuguese auteur Pedro Costa, regarded by a small but influential group of aesthetes as one of the great filmmakers of our era. For those in tune with his vision, the director’s films offer an exciting lesson [...]

  • Notre dame

    Locarno Film Review: 'Notre dame'

    Not to be too cynical about it, but might the recent horrific fire in Paris’ cathedral attract audiences to a film in which the gothic gem plays a major role? It’s likely a wiser marketing strategy than promoting the unrelenting silliness of Valerie Donzelli’s oh-so-kooky comedy “Notre dame,” the writer-director-star’s return to contemporary Paris following [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content