Presenting the Big Island Film Festival

April 14, 2016

What is your film festival’s mission?

To celebrate narrative films and filmmaking.

What role does your film festival play in supporting your film’s community?

Hawaii’s film community is a vital and creative family of filmmakers. The festival does all it can to provide local filmmakers opportunities to exhibit their films to a both local and mainland patrons. Big Island Film Festival offers a unique film festival culture, and an opportunity for narrative filmmakers to share their work—in the revered Hawaiian tradition of storytelling.

Big Island Film Festival

Big Island Film Festival

What is something people look forward to every year at your film festival?

Our audiences look forward not only to seeing the new, independent narrative films—before they are released mainstream—but to meeting and interacting with the filmmakers from around the world. Filmmakers, many visiting Hawai‘i for the first time, look forward to a relaxed, engaging experience, and leave enriched and awed by our Island. Many return year after year. Local residents (kama‘āina) look forward to seeing and talking to celebrities in their “own back yard.”

How long has your film festival been around?

This is BIFF’s 11th year. It began in 2005.

How did your film festival come into being?

“It started when we went to Maui Film Festival, and at a breakfast reception chatted with Marilyn Killeri {then Film Commissioner},” said Executive Director Leo Sears. “I asked her ‘Why don’t we have something like this on the Big Island?’ and she said ‘It takes somebody to make it happen.’” Leo and wife Jan Sears created the Festival as a labor of love, and have steered it for the last 11 years.

What do you want audiences to take away from your film festival?

Our hope is that audiences will come away inspired by the films they’ve seen and the people they’ve met—both filmmakers and film lovers—with a renewed sense of gratitude for Hawai‘i Island’s incredible environment.

“I am so impressed with the quality of films this year,” said Executive Director Leo Sears. “Picking the Official Selections was very difficult. The features are excellent, and the shorts are so good that we added an extra film block so we could show six more. Many of the daytime movies are good enough to be shown in the prime Festival Venue, but we only have so much space. This is a great selection that any movie-lover will enjoy and we hope everybody will come and support indie films with us.”

Kirk Aeder_Monday_IMG_0477 (22) Big Island Film Festival

Big Island Film Festival

Anything else you’d like to tell the audience about your festival?

Everybody says they have something for everybody, however BIFF does offer opportunities for anybody to come and enjoy new, narrative films and the people who make them. Movies are affordable—from free to $16 for a nighttime double feature. We are one of the very few venues for short films, with a remarkable collection this year. Our filmmaker workshops give local writers insights from Hollywood professionals, and Special Events (sunset cocktail receptions, awards brunch) invite the audience to the party to raise a glass with celebrity guests. Closing night Best of the Fest opens with an exciting Hawaiian music concert by award-winning duo “Hapa.” It’s also a chance to give back, with a silent auction to benefit Fisher House for Tripler Army Medical Center, and a portion of ticket sales to go to Hawai‘i Island Food Basket.


Check out the Big Island Film Festival website here.

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