In Partnership with the Southern Weekend

Filmmakers and stars gather at Halekulani for HIFF Awards Gala

Talented artists talk about the inspiration behind their films

Sponsored by Hawaii International Film Festival

The 39th edition of the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) ended on Oahu at the Halekulani as filmmakers and stars gathered for the annual Awards Gala. HI Now hosts Jobeth Devera and Kanoe Gibson were on the red carpet with some of the talented men and women nominated for the awards.

As an independent filmmaker and a hula dancer, Lisette Marie Flanary creates documentary films that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula dance and Hawaiian culture. “Tokyo Hula,” Flanary’s final film in a trilogy of documentaries on hula, explores the explosive popularity of the dance in Japan and was nominated for the 2019 Made in Hawaii Film Award.

“It’s really like coming home, right? You want to premiere your film back at home, and I have shown all of my work here first at HIFF,” Flanary says.

Currently, she is a writer, producer, and director of Lehua Films and her first feature documentary, “American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawaii,” received a CINE Golden Eagle Award when it aired on the critically acclaimed P.O.V. series on PBS in 2003.

Hikari is the winner of this year’s 2019 Kau Ka Hōkū Filmmaker Award presented by Hawaiian Airlines, which is given to an emerging filmmaker who has completed their first or second feature film. Hikari is a writer-director and cinematographer with a professional background as an actor, dancer, and photographer. “37 Seconds” is her feature-length debut, which premiered this year at the Berlin Film Festival to much critical acclaim.

Her directorial debut, the short film “Tsuyako,” screened at over 60 film festivals worldwide (including HIFF), winning 38 awards and two nominations including Best International Short Film at two Academy Award qualified festivals.

HIFF will continue screenings from November 21-24 on Hawaii Island, Maui, and Kauai.

For more information:,, Instagram: @HIFFHawaii, and Twitter: @HIFF