Three Films Earn Awards at Made-in-Hawai‘i Film Festival

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PC: “Upstream,” directed by Jeff Orig

Three Hawai‘i-made films were honored on Sunday, June 2, 2019, at the closing ceremony of the Made in Hawai’i Film Festival, presented by the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Castle Resorts and Hotels.

The ceremony was held at the Hilo Palace Theater, where eight films were nominated for awards in three categories: Best Cinematography, Best Short Form Film and Best Feature Film. The awards were chosen by the Hawai’i Film Critics Society and presented prior to the festival’s closing film.

The festival’s Best Feature award went to critically acclaimed documentary Out of State, directed by Ciara Lacy, whose work has earned her fellowships with Sundance, Tribeca, Time Warner, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Independent Film Project (IFP) and more. Out of State was also slated as the festival’s closing night film.


The Best Feature award was sponsored by Hawai’i Media Inc and presented by MIHFF Executive Director Zoe Eisenberg. Accepting the award on Lacy’s behalf was Big Island resident Akiko Masuda, a prominent community member and asset to the local creative industry.

Also honored as a Best Feature nominee was Big Island-born feature August at Akiko’s, the celebrated debut feature from Christopher Makoto Yogi.

Taking the award for Best Cinematography was cinema noir short Upstream, directed by Jeff Orig, a Honolulu-based filmmaker and two-time Hawai‘i Creative Lab fellow. Upstream, which follows two estranged brothers in Honolulu battling a powerful drug lord, earned a place as a 2018 finalist in the Sundance YouTube new voices lab and the Sundance feature development track. The Best Cinematography award was sponsored by festival supporter and former Hawai‘i Island film commissioner John Mason and presented by two-time Emmy-nominated Cinematographer Ron Garcia.


Other honored nominees in this category were: Ko, directed by Nathan Howe, and Kaumakaiwa, directed by Bradley Tangonan.

The third and final award for the Best Short Form Film went to Ho‘omau, directed by Kenji Doughty, which tells the story of a war between two Hawaiian tribes after a migratory period. The Best Short Form award was sponsored by Ohina Films and presented by festival co-founder and Technical Director Phillips Payson.

Other honored nominees included The Ali‘i’s Seed, directed by Jonathan Yudis, Kaumakaiwa, directed by Bradley Tangonan, and Potluck with Smooch: Cray Cray Crepes, directed by Diq Diamond.


“We are extremely grateful to have been able to offer cash awards to several filmmakers for the first time,” says festival co-founder and Executive Director Eisenberg. “It’s a gift to be able to honor their hard work and vision. We hope to add more awards to our lineup next year, including an award for best music video, and a Ka Moʻomeheu o Hawai’i Award, which will honor films about Hawaiian culture.”

The physical awards themselves were sponsored by local business Trophy Case Hilo.

For more information, visit www.MIHFF.org.

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