The exciting first weekend of the New American Filmmakers (NAF) program at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) offered audiences an intriguing mix of features and shorts about life, love, friendship, and a celebrity octopus. The festival continues through October 22.
Viewers connected with the Mexican-American immigrant window washers in the elegant, eloquent short film Paraíso. Showcasing the dignity of their work, the film’s subjects spoke about the risks they take working abroad to make a better life for themselves and their families. Another “fish out of water” documentary about the international sensation and plausibility of a football picking oracle, The Life and Times of Paul the Psychic Octopus, was a charming story about the science of probabilities, the possibility of higher powers, and celebrity mania at its most outrageous. As with all of the immigrant-made films in NAF program, there is both humanity and humor.
Valley of Saints is a feature-length romantic drama that follows the lives of two men, Gulzar and Afsal, as they attempt to flee political violence in Dal Lake, Kashmir. However, a military curfew delays their departure. When Gulzar meets Asifa, a beautiful scientist researching pollution at Dal Lake, a tender relationship soon develops. Valley of Saints is a visually stunning poetic film–a poignant look into the lives of local Kashmiris who struggle with political turmoil and environmental damage. But as this moving film shows, the characters all find love, home, and hope.
The film’s producer, Nicholas Bruckman, who was born in the United Kingdom, joined the Vilcek Foundation to talk about making the film. In addition, Valley of Saints director and screenwriter Musa Syeed also shares his connection with Dal Lake, Kashmir.
Coming next: Photos from the New American Filmmakers reception, Goh’s adventure to a local Hawaiian middle school, and more interviews with NAF filmmakers!