Happy 30th Anniversary, Hawaiian International Film Festival

Roger & Chaz Ebert

The Hawaii International Film Festival celebrates 30 years stronger than ever with a slew of films on deck for the week ahead. Film buffs can enjoy more than 200 flicks this year in addition to filmmaker panels and even an appearance by acclaimed critic Roger Ebert.

The movie-filled fest kicked of yesterday with a VIP opening party at the Halekulani Hotel, toasting to directors, producers, actors, HIFF staff, sponsors and star supporters. Local director Darius Legg and his much-buzzed about film “Ecila” makes its official premier and it’s sure to exceed expectations. The feature follows a reporter on the hunt for a drug runner named “LOVE.” Legg was inspired by the anti-vision of Hawaii; the slummier parts and post-war architecture of downtown and a world filled with villains and anti-heroes.

Another highly anticipated film is “BOY,” which made its Hawaii debut at the Maui Film Festival. Director Taika Waititi also stars in the film as Boy’s father. Taking place in the New Zealand village of Waihau Bay, Boy is known for his vivid imagination and Michael Jackson obsession. Boy’s father Alamein has been absent most of his life, but that all changes one fateful day and the result is a heart-warming, charming comedy about an unconventional father and son relationship.

On Sunday, Oct. 17. from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., a moderated conversation with Roger Ebert and wife Chaz Ebert will precede the screening of “Leaves of Grass” and the Vision in Film Award will be presented to the Eberts as part of this special program.

Ebert’s “pick” for the festival, “Leaves of Grass,” is a sweet, wacky masterpiece. Edward Norton plays twin brothers. It’s an intelligent, philosophical and poetic film, involving five murders in the marijuana-dealing community of Oklahoma.

Other festival highlights include eco-themed “To Live & Ride in L.A.” and Halekulani Orchid Award nominees “Seesaw” and “Regeneration”. “First Love” is part of the expanded Surf Cinema showcase and “Carancho” is a fantastic Argentinian film.

Festival festivities and films run through Thursday, Oct. 24. For more information call 808.792.1577 or visit www.hiff.org.