Monthly Archives: June 2014

Featured Filmmaker: Susan Kucera, Director, Cinematographer and Producer of “Breath of Life”

Tonight at 5:00pm at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, produer/director/cinematographer Susan Kucera presents her documentary BREATH OF LIFE, which brings the message “we have tremendous problems generated by ourselves but limited ability to know how to deal with them.”

Susan, along with a crew and cast that includes many Hawaii residents and voices, has invited Vene Chun (one of the film’s Hawaiian voices) and 11 cast members from Ulalena (a music & dance production inspired by Hawaiian history) to open and close the screening with a blessing and performance.

Join in support of the film’s powerful message and learn from many important scholars and cultural leaders – all in the comfort of your chair at the movies – tonight at 5pm.

Learn more about the film and Susan’s perspective on making it after the jump.

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Featured Filmmaker: Stefan Schaefer, Director/Producer of “Even Though The Whole World is Burning”

Screening today at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s McCoy theater at 5pm, we have the WORLD PREMIERE “Even Though the Whole World is Burning“,  a beautifully made biographical documentary that explores the work of Poet Laureate, two-time Pulitzer winner, and environmental activist W.S. Merwin. It was produced and directed by local filmmaker Stefan Schaefer.

Known locally for his work as producer on the Maui-based comedy “Get a Job”, Stefan was influenced by Merwin’s work in college and – though the making of this film – has developed a deep reverence for the Merwin local resident, naturalist, and writer, who also happens to be his neighbor in Haiku, Maui.

The film recently received critical praise in The Huffington Post.


Stefan took a moment to tell us more about how he got involved, and to share some of the challenges behind making a film of this magnitude. Enjoy, and don’t miss out on the world premiere! Tickets are still available at the door.  Continue reading

Featured Filmmaker: Paul Lazarus, Director and Producer of “Slingshot”

Accomplished Producer and Director Paul Lazarus is in town for the Maui Film Festival, visiting from Los Angeles. According to his IMDB profile, most recently he directed “Pretty Little Liars” for ABC Family, “The Middle,” “Better Off Ted,” “Samantha Who?” and “Ugly Betty” for ABC, the new “90210” for the CW network and “Big Time Rush” for Nickelodeon. Past shows include: “Friends,” Psych,” “Everybody Loves Raymond,” “Las Vegas,” “Grounded For Life,” “Mad About You,” “LA Law,” “Melrose Place,” “Dream On” and the pilot for MTV’s “2Gether.”

SLINGSHOT, his most recent documentary project, focuses on world-changer and inventor Dean Kamen (widely known for inventing the Segway) and the “Slingshot”, a portable vapor compression distiller that provides fresh drinking water to even the most remote, most desperate villages on the planet.

Tonight at 8pm, in a special FREE screening sponsored by Whole Foods at “Toes in the Sand” Cinema on Wailea Beach, Paul Lazarus introduces the Hawaii Premiere of SLINGSHOT to our Maui Audience.

Before he left Los Angeles for the festival, we were able to ask Paul a few questions for our blog to learn more about his reasons for making the film and the creative transition from working with scripted material toward an unscripted documentary.

Paul Lazarus - SlingShot 2

Lazarus on the set of Slingshot

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Featured Filmmakers: Paola di Florio & Lisa Leeman, Co-Directors of Awake: The Life of Yogananda

Paramashansa Yogananda is both the enlightened being – and the man – primarily responsible for bringing yoga, meditation, and Eastern wisdom and spirituality to the West. George Harrison of the Beattles and Apple Computer co-founder Steve Jobs both cited Yogananda as a major influence in their lives. In fact, Jobs gifted everyone at his memorial service with Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi.

We’re very luck to have the filmmakers with us on Maui for the festival, and they’ll be introducing the film and conducting a Q&A afterward. AWAKE: THE LIFE OF YOGANANDA screens tonight at 8pm at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater.

Lisa Leeman & Paola di Florio, co-directors of AWAKE

Lisa Leeman & Paola di Florio, co-directors of AWAKE

According to the film’s website, AWAKE  is an “unconventional biography”. We took a moment to interview the film’s co-directors, Paola di Florio and Lisa Leeman, to find out more.  Continue reading

Featured Filmmaker: Anthony Lucero, Writer/Director of “East Side Sushi”

Our next installment of the Featured Filmmakers blog focuses on Anthony Lucero, a writer and director from Oakland, California who is here on Maui to present his latest feature film, EAST SIDE SUSHI. This drama is a journey of self-discovery, an ode to Oakland, CA (the location) and over coming adversity: a heartfelt story of Juana, a Latina single mother who is determined to make it as a sushi chef, a profession dominated by Japanese men.

EAST SIDE SUSHI screens tonight at 5pm at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s beautiful, state-of-the art Castle Theater.

EAST SIDE SUSHI writer/director Anthony Lucero

EAST SIDE SUSHI writer/director Anthony Lucero

Anthony gave us a bit of his time so we could learn more – including a major perk of making movies about sushi: you get to eat the props!  Continue reading

Featured Filmmakers: Taylor Laughlin & Rachel Palumbo, Co-Directors, Co-Writers, Co-Producers of Short “Sapere Aude”

“He who begins is half done. Dare to be wise. Make a beginning.” – Horace

Taylor and Rachel - Sapere Aude

Taylor Laughlin & Rachel Palumbo at Cannes

Visitng us from Los Angeles this year, filmmaking duo Taylor Laughlin and Rachel Palumbo are here on Maui to present their film school captsone, SAPERE AUDE, which screened last night before feature X/Y, and is screening again today at 3pm as part of Short Film Showcase 2.

The film draws reference from CS Lewis’ ’Surprised by Joy’, Andre Breton’s Surrealist revolution and Horace’s ’Epistles’, in which he says ’sapere aude,’ or in English, ’He who begins is half done. Dare to be wise. Make a beginning.

Take a moment to get to know these filmmaking dynamos, and head over to the Maui Arts & Cultural Center today at 3pm to catch the showcase, which is comprised of 10 stellar shorts. All poignant, beautiful, and powerful.  Continue reading

Featured Filmmaker: Deborah Reinisch, Director of Short Film “Sure Thing”

“Short films are not inferior, just different. I think the short gives a freedom to filmmakers. What’s appealing is that you don’t have as much responsibility for storytelling and plot. They can be more like a portrait, or a poem.” – Jane Campion

Deborah Reinisch

Debbie directing actors on set

Throughout the festival, we have three different short film showcases, as well as several short films being shown before the full length features at each venue.  Deborah Reinisch – a film professor at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts is one of the short filmmakers visiting Maui to presenter her short, SURE THING, a screen adaptation of Broadway wizard David Ives’ play. It screens today, at 3pm as a part of Short Film Showcase 2 at Maui Arts & Cultural Center.

With fascinating multiple takes, a la Groundhog Day, SURE THING dramatizes a chance meeting in a Brooklyn bistro.  A guy wants to sit in the one available chair, which is across the table from an attractive woman.  The repetition of coupling options is hilarious and wicked.

The film most recently screened at the Cannes Film Festival, and we were lucky to catch up with Debbie to find out more about the film, and what inspired her to take the story from stage to screen.  Continue reading

Featured Filmmaker: Ryan Piers Williams – Writer, Director, Producer, Lead Actor in “X/Y”

Ryan Williams - X:YTonight, at 8pm at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center, we have X/Y, a sexy, edgy, smart, and richly emotional story following four young New Yorkers as they struggle with the challenges of intimacy to discover what they truly desire in a relationship.

Filmmaker Ryan Piers Williams is here on Maui and will be introducing the film – one that he wrote, directed, produced and acted in. The film also stars America Ferreira, Amber Tamblyn, Dree Hemmingway, and Common.

Take a moment to learn more about how this film came to be.  Continue reading

Feature Filmmakers: Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson of “Kumu Hina”

Kumu Hina, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson

Kumu Hina, Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson

Most notably recognized for their work on Out in the Silence, a powerful film about the quest for inclusion of LGBT folks in rural America, Emmy Award-winning directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson proudly bring their latest film, Kumu Hina, to Maui for the first time tonight at 6pm (Castle Theater, Maui Arts & Cultural Center). (Click here to purchase tickets and avoid lines at the venue.)

In Kumu Hina, the respected and beloved kumu hula and cultural scholar Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu shares her unique world to illuminate the joys and struggles of an extraordinary transgender native-Hawaiian teacher who embodies the ancient tradition called “mahu”.

Dean and Joe graciously took a moment (in the middle of their recent world travels with the film) to tell us some more about their involvement in the film, and we’re happy to share it with you!

This is a film experience not to be missed, and the filmmakers, along with Hina herself, will be in attendance!  Continue reading

Featured Filmmaker: Makana, Score Composer for documentary “Kumu Hina”

Tonight’s Hawai‘i-made documentary Kumu Hina (screening tonight, 6/5 at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater at 6pm) centers around Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a respected and beloved kumu hula and cultural scholar who shares her unique world to enlighten the joys and struggles of an extraordinary transgender native Hawaiian teacher who embodies the ancient tradition called mahu.

The score for this film was composed by another extraordinary cultural figure in Hawai‘i, Makana.


Makana in the studio

Makana took a moment from his travels in Europe to tell us more about his heartfelt connection to Kumu Hina (the film and the person), and about his creative process in composing and recording the film’s breathtaking score.

Enjoy the conversation, and don’t miss an opportunity to meet and greet the film’s directors and Hina herself at tonight’s screening! Continue reading