×

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

  • Motherless Brooklyn Edward Norton

    Edward Norton Investigates Murder in 'Motherless Brooklyn' Trailer

    The trailer for Edward Norton’s forthcoming crime drama “Motherless Brooklyn” is officially out. Warner Bros.’ drama, based on the 1999 novel by Jonathan Lethem, follows Lionel Essrog, a young man who works for a small-time mobster in Brooklyn while struggling with an intense case of Tourette Syndrome. “Okay, listen, I got something wrong with me, [...]

  • Summer Box Office

    Box Office Report Card: Studios Get Their Summer Grades

    Studios got badly burned this summer. From May to August, popcorn season in movie speak, the film flops piled up and the big hits were few and far between for nearly every company except Disney. As a whole, summer did little to instill confidence in the state of moviegoing. To be sure, there were successes [...]

  • Port Authority

    Nate Parker's 'American Skin' to Play in Deauville

    Nate Parker’s politically charged drama “American Skin” is set to play at the 45th edition of the Deauville American Film Festival following its world premiere at Venice. “American Skin,” which tells the story of a Gulf War veteran whose son is killed by a police officer, marks Parker’s first feature film since the news resurfaced [...]

  • (L to R) Kristian Bruun, Melanie

    Box Office: 'Ready or Not' Finds $2 Million on Opening Day

    Horror movie “Ready or Not” scared up a $2 million opening day at 2,244 North American locations as Fox Searchlight got a two-day jump on the weekend. The figure includes $730,000 from Tuesday night previews. “Ready or Not” centers on a bride’s wedding night turning deadly when her new in-laws force her into a strange game [...]

  • Lance Reddick Angel Has Fallen

    Lance Reddick on His 'Angel Has Fallen' Role and Yale Acting Classmate Paul Giamatti

    Lance Reddick, known for tough-cop roles on such shows as “The Wire” and “Fringe” — and as a city councilman who used to be a tough cop in “Bosch” — will play the director of the Secret Service in “Angel Has Fallen,” the third installment of the “Olympus Has Fallen” series, coming to theaters Aug. 23. [...]

  • AI Technology David Beckham

    How AI Tech Is Changing Dubbing, Making Stars Like David Beckham Multilingual

    David Beckham does not speak Arabic, Hindi or Mandarin. But when the soccer legend starred in a PSA for malaria awareness this spring, he effortlessly switched among these and six other languages, thanks to cutting-edge technology that could soon change how Hollywood localizes its movies and TV shows. The PSA in question was produced with technology [...]

  • Adam Driver appears in The Report

    'The Report' Trailer: Adam Driver Investigates Post-9/11 Interrogation Tactics

    Adam Driver is in pursuit of the truth in Amazon Studio’s first look at “The Report,” a tense political drama about the CIA’s use of torture. The film focuses on Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Driver), who begins to investigate the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, a group created in the aftermath of 9/11. As he [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content