Hawai’i filmmakers share aloha with Hollywood

In true Hawaiian fashion, story telling made its mark on Hollywood at the 28th Annual Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) from May 10 to 20. Held at the prestigious Directors Guild of America (DGA) in Hollywood, this prominent cinematic event opened its doors to Hawai‘i-born filmmakers and films about or made in Hawai‘i. The islands’ impressive artists graced the screen with spectacular cinematography, outstanding performances and audible delights from some of Hawai‘i’s well-known musicians, such as Jake Shimabukuro.  

LAAPFF is presented by Visual Communications, a nonprofit organization with a mission to promote works about and by Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders through the media arts. This year’s festival showcased more than 180 films and videos, both feature and short lengths, over 11 days and included question and answer panels. “Behind Aloha Smiles” was one such discussion group that showcased producers, writers and directors of Hawai‘i-made films.  

Notable movies shown at this year’s festival include:

“Paradise Broken”

Written for the screen by Hawaiian novelist Chris McKinney, this film delves into world of sex and drugs at it reveals a young couple hungry for a better life and the horrific sacrifices they make to achieve their dreams. Produced and directed by Hawai‘i local James Sereno.

“Hang Loose”

Starring YouTube “it kid” Kevin Wu, “Hang Loose” takes us on an unexpected ride as a naïve and broken-hearted Kevin heads to paradise for his sister’s wedding. A whirlwind of misadventures ensues when his soon to be brother-in-law takes him out for a roll with the boys, which leads to thugs, drugs and everything in between. Directed by Hawai‘i local Ryan Kawamoto.


From Hawaiian born filmmaker Kimberly-Rose Wolter, this rom com has us questioning whether love and marriage are temporary fixtures or if “ever after” truly exists.  

The closing of the festival included a special showcase of Hawaiian and Pacific Islander films including “Keao” (a hula dancer seeks to understand the ancient practices of hula), “Moke Action” (a hilarious look at an unfortunate encounter between two Pidgin English speaking young men and the scolding they received from a store owner when they are about to fight) and “Papa Mau: The Wayfinder” (master navigator Mau Piailug teaches Hawaiians about traditional voyaging), which played at the Art Theater in Long Beach.

Upcoming articles for this column will include reviews of the above mentioned films including highlights from the Behind Aloha Smiles seminar.


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