Magazine article Variety

Fans at Island Fest Feast on Films, Food, Sun and Sand

Magazine article Variety

Fans at Island Fest Feast on Films, Food, Sun and Sand

Article excerpt

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. …

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