The 15th Maui Film Festival gets underway today, Wednesday June 4th. This is the earliest start date for the Film Festival in its history. Perhaps, the organizers wanted to get a jump on things because they have such a particularly good event lined up for island residents and visitors.
We put together a list of five things to look forward to at the Maui Film Festival.
- International Talent. The Festival annually honors some of Hollywood’s biggest and brightest stars with a series of Tributes. This year is no exception. This year the festival will provide awards to Golden Globe Nominee Evan Rachel Wood; rising star Emma Roberts; Oscar Winner Lupita Nyongo; and actor, writer and Director Joe Mangienello.
- Local talent. Shep Gordon is another festival honoree lauded for his influence in the Music industry, Film Industry and the Celebrity Chef movement. He has called Maui home for a number of years. The biographical film directed by Mike Meyers, Super Mensch will be playing at the Seaside Cinema. Gordon is one of many talented Maui Residents who will be featured on the Big Screen. A variety of talented island water athletes will be appearing in films. One of the more notable features is XOXO which looks at five accomplished Maui Surfer girls and their efforts to give back to the community. Maui Resident and American Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin is the subject of the documentary Even Though The Whole World is Burning. The Film was directed by island resident Stefan Schaefer. These are just some of the local residents whose efforts in front of or behind the camera will make it on the big screen.
- Celestial Cinema. If there is one thing that makes the Maui Film Festival stand out, it is the venue for the Celestial Cinema. The big screen set up on the golf course in Wailea makes for a spectacular setting. The beautiful green countryside of Ulupalakua looms behind the screen. The Pacific and the neighbor islands are behind you, and as day fades to night a blanket of stars emerges above. It sure beats a multiplex where your feet stick to the floor.
Sunset before the Celestial Cinema.
- Seaside Cinema. During the recession years, the Maui Film Festival shrank in size. It went from a variety of venues in Wailea to just the Celestial Cinema and films at the MACC. It is exciting to see that the festival will be expanding again to a new venue with the Seaside Cinema. The Seaside Cinema at the Grand Wailea will host more intimate films, offer complimentary valet parking, comfortable seating, food and drinks. This venue will be the location for the majority of the Festival Tribute awards.
- Food. I would be remiss if I failed to mention the food of the Film Festival. Festival events feature some of the best chefs of Wailea and the island. The open night Twilight Reception is hosted and catered by Capische at the Hotel Wailea. This restaurant is a previous winner of the Aipono Award for best island restaurant. The Taste of Chocolate on Friday night is a sweet tooth’s heaven with eight separate stations of Chocolate. The signature culinary event is the Taste of Wailea. This event features contributions from almost all of Wailea’s Restaurants including new additions to the scene such as Sheldon Simeon’s Migrant and Morimoto Maui. If you waited to get tickets for this event, you missed out. All single event tickets have sold out. You will need to buy a Cosmos Pass VIP Patron to get into the top ticket of the festival.
These are just five of the many reasons to be excited about the Festival. You can check out the full schedule of events Maui Film Festival Website. Don’t forget that if you can’t make it down to Wailea, there are a lot of good films showing at the Castle and McCoy Theaters at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. Regardless of where and what you attend, the 15th edition of the Maui Film Festival will be another fantastic event.