Highlights from the virtual program of the 42nd Hawai’i International Film Festival – The Nerds of Color

For the third consecutive year in its 42nd year, the Hawai’i International Film Festival offers a wide variety of films available for virtual viewing. With titles from Hawaii, the mainland, the entire Asia Pacific region and other parts of the world, there are so many for viewers to watch from the comfort of their own home, each expressing voices and stories of all kinds.

As the festival nears its end of the year, I’d like to highlight a handful of its select feature-length short stories and documentaries to keep an eye on:

Ainbo: Spirit of the Amazon (Director: Jose Zelada, Richard Claus)

When evil forces threaten to destroy her homeland in the Amazon, it’s up to the young aspiring warrior Ainbo to save her people with the help of her spirit guides. It’s a film for those seeking the equivalent of a Disney heroic story set among the native peoples of the Amazon, as well as a tale that sums up why it’s so important to protect the environment from the annihilation of greed . While the writing and character development could have been stronger in some areas, it’s otherwise an engaging film for viewers of all ages.

Just remember (Director: Daigo Matsui)

July 26 represents a time marker as the relationship between a stage lighting manager, Teruo, and a taxi driver, Yo, is explored throughout life before and during the COVID-19 pandemic — but in reverse order. A love story that might otherwise not have been as interesting if it had been in chronological order, reveals details of her life and the life around her and how they all play roles big and small in the couple’s time together. In its US premiere Just remember takes the audience on an innovative journey of a romance from its ending to its beginning.

blurring of the color line (Director: Crystal Kwok)

It begins with a simple question posed by director Crystal Kwok to passengers on a MUNI bus in San Francisco: “Where do you think Chinese people sat on the Jim Crow South bus?” Those first few minutes of conversation turns into an uncomfortable but much-needed one Looking at the often-overlooked history of Asian Americans in the South, the relationship between the Asian and Black communities, anti-Black racism, and the systems that helped create it. It’s a must-see documentary – especially at a time of ongoing efforts being made in both Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate.

Bad axe (Directed by David Siev)

This documentary has garnered a lot of attention, and for good reason! Set in the small town of Bad Axe, Michigan, the filmmaker returns to his hometown at the onset of the pandemic and documents his family’s struggles to keep the restaurant going – while also dealing with the re-emerging scars of the generation that… Black Lives Matter movement reaches tipping point and the ramifications of living in a pro-Trump territory. consider Bad axe required consideration of everything that has been happening in the United States lately.

Delikado (directed by Karl Malakuna)

Although the Philippine island of Palawan seems like paradise, it is actually a battleground for environmental protection and political conflict – both of which are proving life-threatening. It’s a somber but essential documentary about an all-too-familiar story of land development on tribal lands, and it’s up to those who live there to fight back. At a time of ongoing issues related to indigenous communities around the world and climate change more generally, Delikado must not be missed.


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