Fourth Annual ‘Made in Hawai’i Film Festival’ Returns to Hilo

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The Made in Hawai’i Film Festival returns to the Hilo Palace Theater for its fourth year, presenting 50 Hawai’i-made films between May 6 and May 8, with a follow-up single-day screening at the Aloha Theatre in Kona on May 14.

Run entirely by local filmmakers, the festival focuses on showcasing the work of creatives living in the Aloha State.

“So many folks believe that to work in the film industry you need to live in LA or New York,” said festival Executive Director Zoë Eisenberg. “MIHFF works to underscore that we actually have a pool of talented filmmakers here in the state, and their voices should be celebrated.”


Opening night kicks off Friday, May 6 at 7 p.m. with critically-acclaimed feature film “I Was a Simple Man,” starring Constance Wu and directed by Christopher Makato Yogi.

On Saturday evening, guests can catch the Honolulu-set festival favorite “Waikiki,” directed by Christopher Kahunahana. On Sunday evening, brother/sister drama “Water Like Fire,” directed by Mitchel Merrick, closes out the festival following a short awards ceremony.

Additional blocks include the Ho’omau block on Saturday at 4:30 p.m., spotlighting eight stories of overcoming obstacles to perpetuate people and culture.


The ʻĀina Block, Sunday at 2 p.m., presented by Big Island Grown, works to amplify the connection to – and importance of – the land; and the Portraits block on Sunday at 11:30 a.m., features a selection of intimate documentary portraits.

Outside of films, the festival has a free pitch and networking event happening on Saturday, May 7, at 10 a.m., produced in collaboration with Hawai’i’s Creative Industries and the Hawai’i Filmmakers Collective, where filmmakers can pitch their next idea for a $1,000 prize, and audience members can cheer them on and mingle afterward. Pitch judges include Aaron Kandell, writer of Moana and Adrift, and Jeff Orig, writer/producer/director of local cult-hit web series “Waikiki P.D.”

On Sunday, those interested in getting into filmmaking can check out the free 10 a.m. Producer’s Panel, which focuses on creating micro-budget work in the state in partnership with SAG-AFTRA Local Hawai’i and Hawai’i’s Creative Industries.


“We expect to have over fifty filmmakers in attendance throughout the weekend, which is exciting for the theater, and allows us to connect creatives directly with the Hilo audience,” said Phillips Payson, the Hilo Palace’s Executive Director, who works double-time as MIHFF’s technical director.

The Palace’s new in-house cafe, Hilo Palace Grounds, will be open all weekend.

Single block tickets in Hilo run at $10, and a Hilo weekend pass stands at $35.

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