×

Maui Fest Unspools Eclectic Slate While Neighboring Volcano Erupts in Distance

The Maui Film Festival celebrates its 19th anniversary this year, and, despite taking place in an ever-more crowded calendar of summer film fests, its popularity continues to grow. The event attracts locals and mainlanders alike, and draws both casual fans and ardent cineastes with its unique mixture of sun, sand and life-affirming cinema.

And this time around, in an unexpected turn, the eruption of the Kilauea Volcano on the neighboring Big Island of Hawaii has raised the Maui fest’s profile to new highs.

“People shouldn’t worry,” says fest founder and director Barry Rivers. “That’s 100 miles away and we’re not affected at all.”

Rivers stresses that Maui’s rugged beauty, with its beaches, ocean and backdrop of mountains and jungle, makes it “a very special location — and a lot of the festival is held outdoors.” Venues include the Celestial Cinema at the Wailea Gold & Emerald Golf Course, and the Toes-in-the-Sand Cinema on Wailea Beach at the Four Seasons.

The fest’s mission statement is “Passionately created. Intelligently designed. Endlessly inspiring.” This “reaffirms to people what we’re trying to do with the festival through the choices we’ve made in our programming,” says Rivers.

Opening night kicks off with Aussie indie “Find Your Voice,” starring “Whale Rider” star Keisha Castle-Hughes and Adam Saunders as a Maori rapper. This is followed by “Stay Human,” a documentary about musician Michael Franti. “It’s a pairing that really works well and encapsulates what the festival’s about,” Rivers says.

The festival will close with another double bill: “Serengeti Rules” and “She Is the Ocean.” “ ‘Serengeti’ is one of the most beautiful, visually stunning documentaries I’ve ever seen,” says Rivers. “They shot in the Serengeti but also in the Aleutian Islands, the Pacific Northwest and Peru, and it’s all about our need to preserve the balance of life on Earth. It’s an extremely hopeful film. ‘She Is the Ocean’ is a wonderful documentary about nine women and their relationship to the ocean, and the second part of a trilogy from director Innesse Biohina.”

In between, the fest will present an eclectic program. Highlights include “Don’t Worry, He Won’t Get Far on Foot,” starring Jonah Hill and Joaquin Phoenix, directed by Gus Van Sant; “Ideal Home,” a dramedy starring Paul Rudd and Steve Coogan, directed by Andrew Fleming; “The Bookshop,” starring Emily Mortimer, Bill Nighy and Patricia Clarkson; and “Dirt Rich,” which Rivers calls “a documentary about healthy soil that blew my mind,”

Also screening: “Living in the Future’s Past,” starring and narrated by Jeff Bridges, which Rivers calls “a beautifully shot documentary about the evolution of culture and technology”; “Leave No Trace”; “Andy Irons”; “Kissed by God”; “Back to Burgundy”; “Off the Menu”; and “Calling All Earthlings,” about UFOs and alien life. 

In addition, the fest will present filmmaker panels, Q&A sessions, honoree events and private VIP soirees, as well as its famed open-to-all themed culinary celebrations: Taste of Summer, Taste of Chocolate and Taste of Wailea.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Bruce Springsteen arrives for the New

    Bruce Springsteen Returns to NJ Hometown for Surprise 'Western Stars' Introduction

    Bruce Springsteen returned to his hometown of Freehold, New Jersey to offer a surprise introduction to the first public multiplex viewing of his concert/documentary film, “Western Stars.” Dressed simply in a brown jacket, Springsteen took a moment to say a few words at the AMC Freehold 14 movie theater on Saturday night. “We knew we [...]

  • Backstage in Puglia del film SPACCAPIETRE:

    'Gomorrah' Star Salvatore Esposito Set For De Serio Twins' 'The Stonebreaker'

    Salvatore Esposito, the Italian star who plays young mob boss Genny Savastano in Italy’s hit TV series “Gomorrah,” will soon be hitting the big screen toplining upcoming drama “The Stonebreaker” by twin directorial duo Gianluca and Massimiliano De Serio, who are known internationally for “Seven Acts of Mercy.” The De Serio twins are now in post on “Stonebreaker” [...]

  • Angelina Jolie is Maleficent in Disney’s

    Box Office: 'Maleficent: Mistress of Evil' Tops 'Joker,' 'Zombieland'

    “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” is on track to give Disney another first place finish after scoring $12.5 million in Friday’s domestic ticket sales. If estimates hold, the Angelina Jolie-led film should finish the weekend with about $38 million — well below earlier forecasts but enough to top holdover “Joker” and fellow newcomer “Zombieland: Double Tap.” [...]

  • Maelle Arnaud

    Lumière Chief Programmer Maelle Arnaud: 'Film History Doesn't Have Parity'

    LYON, France   — As the Lumière Institute’s head programmer since 2001, Maelle Arnaud helped launched the Lumière Festival in 2009 and has watched it grow in international esteem over the decade that followed. This year, the festival ran 190 films across 424 screenings in theaters all over town. The festival will come to a [...]

  • Girl with Green Eyes

    Talking Pictures TV: Bringing the Past Back to Life in the U.K.

    LYON, France – Since its launch in 2015, Talking Pictures TV has become the fastest-growing independent channel in the U.K. with a growing library of British film and TV titles that span five decades, according to founder Noel Cronin. Noel Cronin attended the Lumière Festival’s International Classic Film Market (MIFC) in Lyon, France, where he [...]

  • Wings of Desire

    German Heritage Sector Applauds Increased Digitization, Preservation Funding

    LYON, France  — Germany’s film heritage sector is celebrating a new federal and state-funded initiative launching in January that will provide €10 million ($11.15 million) a year towards the digitization and preservation of feature films. Rainer Rother, the artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek, outlined the plan at a panel discussion at the Lumière Festival’s [...]

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content