Hawaii International Film Festival returns to Palace Theater Thursday

  • Courtesy photo Films screening during the Festival are often accompanied with talk story sessions with directors and filmmakers. Phillip Payson, executive director of the Palace Theater, is seen here in 2019 chatting with a visiting filmmaker.

The Hawaii International Film Festival returns to the big screen at the historic Palace Theater on Thursday, with a weekend full of inspiring films from around the world.

The festival opens with a splash at 7 p.m. Thursday with the Big Island premiere of “Waterman,” the definitive documentary on the life and legacy of Duke Kahanamoku, narrated by Jason Momoa. “Waterman” offers an intimate look at the legendary swimmer, trailblazer, and the undisputed father of modern-day surfing. The film premieres following the sport’s first-time inclusion in this year’s Summer Olympics — a fitting tribute to Duke’s work promoting the sport around the globe. The filmmaking team behind “Waterman” will be in attendance to present the film and hold a post-screening discussion.


HIFF continues through the weekend with a stellar line up of films from all over the world.

“Highlights include new films from Okinawa (“Miracle City Koza”), New Zealand (“High Tide Don’t Hide”), as well as from legendary auteurs like Jane Campion with “The Power of the Dog” starring Benedict Cumberbatch,” said Anderson Le, HIFF Artistic Director.

“Another highlight is the feature film debut of celebrated experimental artist Fern Silva called “Rock Bottom Riser,” shot on Hawaii Island that is less palimpsest and more cinematic mixtape on Native Hawaiian history. Hawaii is strongly represented with Christopher Makoto Yogi’s “I Was a Simple Man,” which world premiered at Sundance, two “Made In Hawai‘i Shorts” programs including “Cashback” from writer/director Zoe Eisenberg, filmed on location at the Palace, as well as “Area 77” and “Trouble in Paradise,” which were also shot on Hawaii Island.”

“The Hilo Palace and HIFF have a deep-rooted partnership committed to showcasing culturally significant and entertaining films. We are truly excited to be welcoming the festival back to the big screen,” said Phillips Payson, Palace Executive Director.


The full program lineup and screening schedule are now available online at hilopalace.com.

Tickets are $10 for individual screenings, or purchase an all-access HIFF Pass for only $40 to enjoy all of the films showcased in this year’s program. HIFF opens on Thursday and continues through Sunday. Tickets and passes are available online at hilopalace.com, at the Palace box office and over the phone at 934-7010 during business hours, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

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