Southeast Asia Films at HIFF 2015

Hawaii International Film Festival


YELLOW FLOWERS ON THE GREEN GRASS (Tôi thấy hoa vàng trên cỏ xanh) (Viet Nam)

A coming of age story set in the Vietnamese countryside during the late 1980s — Thieu and Tuong are brothers that share a strong bond. Unbeknownst to Tuong, Thieu is constantly jealous of his younger brother’s personal and academic achievements. This leads to an act of violence which leaves Tuong paralyzed and bedridden. In coming to terms with his own conscience, Thieu attempts to redeem himself and discovers the true meaning of brotherhood.

Based on an award winning and best-selling novel by Nguyen Nhat Anh, a 300-page book divided into 81 short chapters. YELLOW FLOWERS ON THE GREEN GRASS is directed by Victor Vu, the most successful director working in Vietnam’s burgeoning film industry. Mostly known for his slick aesthetic and thriller plots, Vu departs from his usual style for something more tranquil and bucolic, which works well with this famous coming-of-age story familiar to many young Vietnamese.

Wednesday, November 18 at 5:45 PM – Dole Cannery
Thursday, November 19 at 3:15 PM – Dole Cannery

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HENERAL LUNA (Philippines)

Set during the Philippine-American war, a short-tempered Filipino general faces an enemy more formidable than the American army: his own treacherous countrymen.

In 1898, General Antonio Luna (John Arcilla), commander of the revolutionary army, is spoiling for a fight. The Philippines, after three hundred years as a Spanish colony, has unwillingly come under American rule. General Luna wants to fight for freedom but members of the elite would rather strike a deal with the United States. The infighting is fierce in the new cabinet but General Luna and his loyal men forge ahead even as his military decisions are met with resistance from soldiers who are loyal only to President Aguinaldo ( Mon Confiado ). Ultimately, it is the general’s legendary temper and pride that bring him to his death when a pack of presidential guards assassinate him in broad daylight. While American newspapers are quick to point the blame to Aguinaldo, the mystery has never been completely solved and the General’s killers were never put to justice.

HENERAL LUNA Screenings:
Sunday, November 15 at 5:30 PM – Dole Cannery
Sunday, November 22 at 2:30 PM – Dole Cannery

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HONOR THY FATHER (Philippines)

The crime thriller HONOR THY FATHER examines fundamentalist Christianity and white-collar crime in the Philippines.

After years of financial struggle, Kaye (Meryll Soriano) and Edgar (John Lloyd Cruz) are finally on a roll. Kaye has made millions promoting her father’s investment scheme to her friends and fellow Pentecostal parishioners at the Church of Yeshua. But their world unravels instantaneously one day when Edgar swings by his father-in-law’s house to find the place ransacked and the old man gone. It doesn’t take long for Kaye’s friends to turn on the couple, who go to the fiery bishop for help. But he’s not exactly generous, preoccupied as he is with raising money for a new temple (and with the promise of extravagant kickbacks). The parishioners continue to demand their money back, and Kaye and Edgar start receiving death threats. When the tension erupts in violence, Edgar decides to seek the aid of his criminally inclined family.

Saturday, November 14 at 8:00 PM – Dole Cannery
Wednesday, November 18 at 2:45 PM – Dole Cannery

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KID KULAFU (Philippines)

Before he became one of the world’s greatest boxers, Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao was a young boy living a hand-to-mouth existence, trying to survive one day at a time. When he discovers his natural talent for boxing, he embarks on a brutal and intense journey that takes him from the mountains of the Philippines to the streets of Manila, and must risk everything to become a champion – for himself, his family, and his country.

KID KULAFU Screenings:
Saturday, November 21 at 4:30 PM – Dole Cannery
Sunday, November 22 at 5:00 PM – Dole Cannery

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THE COFFIN MAKER (Philippines)

Randy is a single father, barely earning enough as a coffin maker to provide medicine for his sick daughter Angeline. He is forced to work overtime, leaving Angeline alone for long periods. One night, while her father is working, Angeline has a reaction to the medication which results in her death. In shock and unable to pay the hospital bill and obtain Angeline’s body, Randy falls under the influence of the unscrupulous owner of a funeral home. In exchange for paying the hospital bill, he insists Randy agree to an elaborate funeral service for Angeline at his business. He knows Randy has no money and few options.

After he considers his options, Randy finds he must either pay him back for the hospital bill and reclaim his daughter, or accept an unthinkable offer to sell Angeline’s corpse. Stark and powerful, THE COFFIN MAKER follows a father’s struggle to redeem not only his child’s death with a decent burial, but his own guilt and responsibility. The film won the NETPAC Award at the 2014 Hanoi International Film Festival.

Friday, November 20 at 3:00 PM – Doris Duke Theatre

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VIOLATOR (Philippines)

A devastating typhoon is sweeping over the Philippines, slowly approaching Manila. As if they sensed the final judgment looming, some of the city’s inhabitants behave in ways that are hard to explain. The intriguing mosaic of stories gradually leads us to a police station where the night shift is forced to wait out the forces of nature, while a new prisoner sitting in one of the cells appears to be connected to the mysterious powers concentrated in the storm.

This focused first feature by film critic Dodo Dayao, offers a grimly-painted, symbolic treatment of a society that must suddenly come to grips with its innermost fears. In his unusually compact, aesthetically provocative, and semantically ambiguous debut, the filmmaker creates an electrifying atmosphere that takes inspiration from the B horror movies of the eighties, the survival horror video game series SILENT HILL, as well as the director’s own personal experience.

VIOLATOR Screenings:
Saturday, November 21 at 8:15 PM – Dole Cannery

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AFTER THE WAVE tells the story of the epic forensic operation in Thailand to identify and return home the bodies of over 5,000 victims of the Boxing Day Tsunami in 2004, both locals and holidaymakers from around the world in Thailand for the Christmas break. Led by a crack Thai & Australian team, the best forensic specialists from around the world were in a race against time to give back every local and foreign victim their identity. Creating forensic history, the international team’s mantra from the outset was ‘we will take them home’, a seemingly impossible ambition but one that almost succeeded after two years of relentless effort.

This dramatic documentary attempts to make some sense out of a tragedy so bewilderingly complete that a decade out it still seems far-fetched to most of us.

AFTER THE WAVE Screenings:
Saturday, November 14 at 2:30 PM – Dole Cannery
Thursday, November 19 at 3:45 PM – Dole Cannery

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HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME) (Indonesia & Thailand)

In Thailand, all males turning 21 years old must participate in the annual military draft lottery. Drawing a black card grants exemption, while drawing red results in two years of military service. On the morning of his draft lottery, Oat reflects back on his childhood — when as a child, his older brother Ek faced the possibility of being drafted himself. Unable to convince Ek to do whatever he can to change his fate, young Oat takes matters into his own hands, resulting in unexpected circumstances.

Based on the short stories “At the Café Lovely” and “Draft Day” from the U.S. bestselling book Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap, HOW TO WIN AT CHECKERS (EVERY TIME) is director Josh Kim’s debut feature film. It held its’ world premiere this year in the Panorama section of the Berlin International Film Festival.

Friday, November 13 at 6:00 PM – Dole Cannery
Saturday, November 21 at 6:00 PM – Dole Cannery

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Four songs from His Majesty Bhumibol Adulyadej’s (also known as King Rama IX) royal songbook have now inspired four leading Thai directors to interpret their spirit and meaning into four short films:

“The Singers” by Nonzee Nimibutr – Two elderly ladies from vastly different backgrounds are united by heartache. When they meet and learn each other’s story, they each feel great sympathy for the other. And it appears what can help them both is their shared passion in music. Unlikely as it seems, a song will save them from the cruelty of life.

“Smiles” by Wallop Prasopphol – A teenage boy is bullied badly at school. His fault: he never shows his feelings, never gets angry, cries, laughs, or even smiles. But then, the boy lands a role in the school play with the prettiest girl in class. The girl is dating a popular athlete, and for her to appear in a play with the “robot” sounds like the unlikeliest thing. The truth is about to come out, and it will change perceptions forever.

“Falling Rain” by Parkpoom Wongpoom – The story of Seub Nagasathien, former chief of Huay Kha Kaeng Wildlife Sanctuary and Thailand’s most famous conservationist. Seub spends the last four years of his life working to stop illegal logging and poaching in Thailand’s most fertile forest area. He stands up against politicians and dark influences that operate without regards to the sanctity of the law. And his fighting spirit won’t give in to the power of greed that’s destroying the land.

“Star” by Yongyoot Thongkongtoon. – Every student dreams of becoming the one who leads the flag salute. So when the headmaster announces that the school is looking for a student to perform the honor in place of a student who’s just graduated, two little boys, Ko and Nueng, set out in a competition to win that spot in front of the whole school. The contest will be decided by the number of stars assigned to the candidate every time they perform a good deed. Will Nueng defy the odds and achieve his impossible dream?

The four films pass on the inspiration and encouragement that His Majesty the King, whom is universally beloved and considered the spiritual center of all Thai people. These songs, conceived by the monarch, bestow upon his people profound meaning and philosophy.

Thursday, November 19 at 8:30 PM – Dole Cannery

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THE HIJRA (Indonesia)

THE HIJRA tells the history of one of Indonesia’s great nationalists and one of the founders of Sarekat Islam, a union and political power that spawned Indonesia’s biggest political leaders in the 20th century.

The film begins at the end of the 19th century, when the Dutch East Indies entered a new phase as the political elite gained more influence, and the chasm grew, as poverty becomes even more widespread, especially among the indigenous population. Tjokroaminoto was born in a noble Javanese family, living a privileged life of high education and reverence for Islam. However, he abandoned his station in life, witnessing the injustices against his people from the elite and colonial regime. The founding of Sarekat Dagang Islam (Islamic trade unions) became the rallying call for revolution and change.

THE HIJRA Screenings:
Friday, November 20 at 5:30 PM – Doris Duke Theatre

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GRANNY (Dahdi) (Singapore)

Mrs. Lee is a simple grandmother who lives alone. She runs a provision shop on Pulau Ubin, a tiny island off the coast of Singapore. One day, she encounters an illegal immigrant, who attempts to seek shelter in her provision shop. Being a good citizen, Mrs Lee calls the police immediately. As she waits for the police to arrive, she gets to know the girl better and slowly, develops doubts about handing her over to the police.

GRANNY (Dahdi) Screenings:
Friday, November 13 at 6:15 PM – Dole Cannery

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