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Maui Film Festival Plans Safe Return With Screenings and Honorees

The Rumba Kings
Courtesy of The Rumba Kings

Alan Brain’s 2021 award-winning “The Rumba Kings” and Jace Panebianco’s “Broken Molds” will be among the films showcased at the Maui Film Festival, which will accommodate guests in an open-air, pod-style seating, from Nov. 17-21 at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center in Kahului. There are 13  premieres among the features in the lineup.

Even though the festival has arranged for guests to show proof of vaccination, for those who wish to participate virtually, 90 feature films and shorts are available to stream. These include Nov. 17 screenings: Emily Sky’s “River,” which explores space and time throughout six continents; Panebianco’s “Broken Molds,” which follows the origin story of windsurfing, and Isaac Halasima’s “Waterman,” a documentary narrated by Jason Mamoa, that tells the story of five-time Olympic Gold medalist Paoa Kahanamoku.

Peggy Callahan and Louie Psihoyos “Mission Joy,” explores the friendship between Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama, and Frauke Sandig’s documentary, “Aware,” follows six researchers approaching consciousness from different perspectives, will unspool on Nov. 18.

On Nov. 19, Randall Miller’s “Coffee Wars,” which follows a barista who is trying to stay afloat running a business, and documentary “The Rumba Kings,” which goes into a deep dive of Congolese music and its Rumba origins — fighting Belgium oppression during its colonization of the Democratic Republic of Congo, will screen. Nov. 20’s films include Chasing Bliss’ “Sweetwater,” which follows the ocean magnitude and those who draw their energy from it; Marion Hill’s “Ma Belle, My Beauty,” that follows a reunion between two women with a romantic past in the South of France; and Carlos López Estrada’s “Summertime,” on the intersecting lives of 25 Angelenos.

Closing out the festival on Nov. 20 are Paul Taublieb’s “Ground Swell,” which tells of the most famous big wave spots on the planet; Pamela Tanner Boll and Lindsay Richardson’s “To Which We Belong,” a documentary that follows farmers and ranchers leaving behind traditional practices; and Nays Baghai’s “Descent,” following the healing effects of cold water immersion after trauma.

“The challenges of the pandemic resulted in the most difficult and unpredictable year, not only for the Maui Film Festival but for the entire world,” said Barry Rivers, fest director. “Imagine building the Empire State building on quicksand. That pretty much nails the vibe. We are grateful for the support of so many people who’ve shared our commitment to bringing back our rocking rocket of a film festival. We’re ready to embrace the moment, lift-off and head for the stars.”

The festival plans to honor Tiffany Shlain with the inaugural Creating the Future Award on Nov. 18. She is the creator of the Webby Awards and co-founder of the Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Kate Nash is to be feted with the 2021 Rising Star Award the following night. The star of “Coffee Wars” is an accomplished singer-songwriter. Grammy-winning producer Mark Johnson will be awarded with the Music Moves Mountains trophy on Nov. 20.