Five Hawai’i Films Honored at Made in Hawai’i Film Festival

Five Hawaii-made films were honored at the 2021 Made in Hawai’i Film Festival (MIHFF), held this past weekend, May 25 – 28 virtually and in-person at the Hilo Palace Theater.

Now in its third year, the festival focuses on celebrating and showcasing films made within the Aloha state, with over sixty films playing throughout the four day period.

From this slate, fourteen films were nominated for awards in five categories: Best Cinematography, Best Short Form Film, Best Feature Film, Best Music Video, and the brand new ‘Ike Loa Award, presented to a filmmaker exploring Native Hawaiian stories and identity and demonstrating excellent artistry, growth and expansion. The awards were nominated by the festival and winners were chosen by the Hawai’i Film Critics Society.

“This year’s nominees are a collection of fearless filmmakers unafraid to take chances and get raw and frank,” says Barry Wurst, founder of the Hawai’i Film Critics Society. “It’s exciting to see this caliber of filmmaking from local artists who are challenging us and themselves with their work.”

The official winners are as follows:

Best Feature Film – Tokyo Hula, directed by Lisette Flanary

This 72 minute documentary explores the explosive popularity of the hula dance in Japan from both Native Hawaiian and Japanese perspectives.

Best Short Film – The Pit Where We Were Born, directed by Alexander Bocchieri

In this dramatic short, a father and son reunite around the family ‘imu of their Wai’anae farm to reckon with addiction, control, and a past that continues to color their future.

Best Cinematography – Swarm Season, directed by Sarah J Christman and shot by Zara Popovici

This visually stunning documentary follows ten year old Manu and her mother who catch swarms of wild honeybees in order to breed disease resistant colonies as her father takes part in the native Hawaiian movement to protect the sacred Mauna Kea mountain from the construction of a massive telescope.

Best Music Video – You Were Once Wild, directed by Dom Walczuk

This three minute music video explores the world of reflections within dance.

 ‘Ike Loa Award – Charity, directed by Mitchel Viernes

In this short thriller, a man wakes up to find an ominous stranger in his dining room and is faced with making an impossible decision.


“Since our festival started in 2018 we’ve managed to double in size each year, going from eighteen films, to thirty-five films, to well over sixty films,” says festival Executive Director Zoe Eisenberg. “As such, each year it gets twice as hard to choose our award nominees, but we feel this year’s selection demonstrates an overall strength in emotional storytelling, and we’re thrilled to be able to honor the filmmakers behind these beautiful stories.”


For more information, visit www.mihff.org.

View the 2021 Award Winners here: www.mihff.org/2021awards


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