By Jason S. Yadao
Having covered the Hawaii International Film Festival in both its spring and autumn incarnations for a number of years now, I can pretty much recite the mantra by heart: There's always something for fans of anime and anime-related films to love at HIFF.
Now usually, when a fresh film schedule is released, I take a few minutes to scan through it, note everything that might be of interest to you, dear Otaku Ohana readers, then research them and post a handy-dandy guide to what's available. This year's Spring Showcase, running April 4-10, is a little different: HIFF Programming Director Anderson Le emailed me with a list of two films worth highlighting -- Ghost in the Shell: Arise -- Border 1 & 2 and Blue Bustamante -- as well as a ticket discount code, which we'll get to in a little bit.
Let's tackle the obvious choice first. Ghost in the Shell: Arise is the latest in a long line of adventures for Motoko Kusunagi, with this OAV series serving as a prequel to her later exploits and chronicling the beginning of her career with Public Security Section 9. Border 1 & 2 comprise the first two parts of the four-part series. Funimation licensed the series last year; these two episodes are actually available on what they're calling the "Japanese Blu-ray Collector's Edition," each episode available with a slew of special features and retailing for ... brace yourself ... $69.98 each. Sure, discounts are available at the usual Internet retail sites, and a cheaper release is coming sometime later this year, but let's face it: A HIFF ticket will probably be the cheapest way you'll be able to legally watch this for now. Plus you get it on the big screen! Ghost in the Shell: Arise will screen in Japanese with English subtitles at 9 p.m. Thurs., April 10, at the Regal Dole Cannery theaters.
Blue Bustamante, by contrast, is probably not something I would have picked up on first glance, being a film from the Philippines. A closer look at the plot, though, has Japanese culture at its core: George Bustamante and his family move from the Philippines to Japan hoping it'll improve their lives, but when he gets fired from his job, he's forced to take a job as a stuntman in a tokusatsu (live-action superhero) series ... and he has to hide his new job from his family to save face, to boot. The film will screen in Tagalog with English subtitles at 6 p.m. Sun., April 6 (perhaps something to see to cap off your weekend at Kawaii Kon?) and 4 p.m. Mon., April 7, also at the Dole theaters.
Tickets are usually $12 each, but as I mentioned earlier, Anderson also sent along a ticket discount code for your online purchasing convenience. Use the code "SPRING2014" at checkout, and you can get your tickets for these shows (or anything screening at the Dole theaters, I believe) for $8 each. Better hurry and use that, though ... it expires at midnight April 4.
For more information on the HIFF Spring Showcase, visit www.hiff.org.
Longer stay for Short Peace
If you blinked and missed the one-night-only screenings of Short Peace, the four-short-film package presented by Katsuhiro Otomo, earlier this month, no need to despair: Distributor Eleven Arts recently added a few more dates to the schedule. Short Peace will return to Consolidated's Ward theaters on Oahu and Kaahumanu theaters on Mon., April 21, at 7 p.m., then moving on to the Doris Duke Theater at the Honolulu Museum of Art on Thurs., May 1, and Friday, May 2.
Ticket links for all screenings and times for the Doris Duke screenings aren't available yet, but you may as well go ahead and mark your calendar now in case you're interested. And again, if you can't make those dates, the shorts will be available exclusively on the PlayStation Network later this year. You can catch up on what Short Peace is all about by reading the tail end of my earlier post about the film or visiting shortpeace-movie.com.