You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Maui Film Fests Unspools Pics With Solutions

It's back to the earth and the ocean in Hawaii

If it bleeds, it leads. So goes the mantra of myriad media outfits, websites and — yes — even film fests.
But not the Maui Film Festival. Founder-director Barry Rivers is making sure that this year’s sprocket opera in Hawaii skews to the lighter side and enlivens attendees.

“We’re looking for films that provide solutions,” Rivers says. “It’s really important that for the effort it takes to make this festival happen every year, the effort is expended in the direction of trying to offer an alternative vision for the future.”

That’s why Maui’s 14th installment, per Rivers, is a “tempestuous teenager” stocked with pics that will simultaneously promote creating, as well as trusting in, a better tomorrow. The fest, running June 12-16, will unspool 28 features and 18 shorts from France, Mexico, New Guinea and Australia, among other countries, and will include pics that cover topics ranging from military violence to sustainable communities and honeybee extinction.

Rivers and company received roughly 1,000 submissions this year, and narrowed the haul down to an eclectic mix of pics such as “Muscle Shoals,” “My Awkward Sexual Adventure” and “Big Sur.” Of interest is Joss Whedon’s take on “Much Ado About Nothing,” as well as docu “The Short Game,” which tracks eight wunderkind competitors at the World Championship of Junior Golf.

Fest is set to open with the preem of “Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau,” which profiles one of islands’ most revered surfers and heroes, and “20 Feet From Stardom,” a docu that shines the spotlight on the backup singers who helped shape 20th century pop music.

This year, Maui fetes a stunning troika of actresses: Jessica Chastain (Nova Award), Kirsten Dunst (Pathfinder Award) and Brie Larson (Rising Star Award). Fest will also honor Eddie Aikau, repped by his family, and navigator Nainoa Thompson for their leading personal journeys in service of greater good. “We’ve always talked about honoring luminaries,” Rivers says. “Not just celebrities.”

Many signature events and spots return this year, including Seaside Cinema, a toes-in-the-sand venue that doubles as a “town center.” Additionally, a series of panels will take place at the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort’s Mei Court, which Rivers has dubbed the “cinema cathedral.”

Confabs are skedded to cover a behind-the-scenes look at Aikau, the art of making a short and indie pic production, among other topics. Four culinary arts celebrations round out the festivities, including a “hip luau menu” for opening night and other Hawaiian favorites. But whether it’s the food, the tributes or the “psychiatrist” that Rivers calls the vast Pacific Ocean, the founder-director is mainly concerned with broadcasting change.
“More than ever,” he says, “I felt there was a need to step it up this year … and put the festival’s money where its mouth was.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Gina Rodriguez'Someone Great' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Gina Rodriguez Apologizes After Rapping N-Word in Deleted Instagram Video

    “Jane The Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez has released an apology video shortly after she used the N-word while rapping along to a Fugees song in a video posted to her Instagram story. In the original video, which has since been deleted, Rodriguez raps along to “Ready or Not” while having her hair and makeup done. [...]

  • After a Revolution

    Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund Winners Announced

    The Tribeca Film Institute and Gucci announced on Tuesday this year’s recipients for the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund. Now in its 12th year, TFI and Gucci have awarded $140,000 in grant funding, covered by Gucci, to support nine documentaries highlighting domestic and international matters, with a focus on female-led stories and filmmakers. The funding will [...]

  • countdown

    Apple Takes Down Viral 'Countdown' Horror App, STX Brings It to Android Instead

    An app that can predict the date and time of your death may have been too much for Apple to stomach: The iPhone maker removed a viral app inspired by the upcoming horror movie “Countdown” a few days ago, putting an end to its meteoric rise. Before its removal, “Countdown” had surpassed TikTok, YouTube and [...]

  • Babyteeth Eliza Scanlen

    Eliza Scanlen Drama 'Babyteeth' Lands at IFC for North America (EXCLUSIVE)

    IFC Films has acquired North American rights to the drama “Babyteeth,” starring Eliza Scanlen, Essie Davis, Ben Mendelsohn, and Toby Wallace, Variety has learned exclusively. The film had its world premiere in competition at the 2019 Venice International Film Festival, where Wallace won the Marcello Mastroianni award for best new young performer. It will be [...]

  • Neil Patrick Harris arrives at night

    'Matrix 4': Neil Patrick Harris Lands Role in Latest Installment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Neil Patrick Harris is the latest addition to the ensemble cast for the upcoming fourth installment of the “Matrix” franchise. He joins Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss, who will be reprising their roles in the film, as well as Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, who was tapped as one of the leads last week. Plot details are [...]

  • Amanda Seyfried attends a special screening

    Amanda Seyfried Joins Gary Oldman in David Fincher's 'Mank'

    Amanda Seyfried is set to join Netflix’s “Mank,” David Fincher’s latest biopic revolving around “Citizen Kane” screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, with Gary Oldman tapped to play the titular role. Lily Collins, Charles Dance, Tuppence Middleton, Arliss Howard, Ferdinand Kingsley, Jamie McShane, Joseph Cross, Sam Troughton, Toby Leonard Moore, Tom Burke, and Tom Pelphrey will also appear [...]

  • Cuba Gooding Jr

    Cuba Gooding Jr. Accused of Groping 14 Women at Bars and Clubs

    Prosecutors on Tuesday accused Cuba Gooding, Jr., of a long-standing pattern of approaching unfamiliar women in bars and kissing, pinching, biting or groping them. Gooding appeared in court in Manhattan for an arraignment on four misdemeanor counts of forcible touching and third degree sexual abuse. He pleaded not guilty, and is due back in court [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content