Entries of interest include features by 33-year-old filmmaker and teacher Destin Cretton and 22-year-old cinematographer Shan Liljestrand. Both men grew up on Maui, were educated in schools here and now make Los Angeles their home. They also share a passion for filmmaking. “I love working in an art form that requires so much collaboration with other people,” said Cretton, whose festival film title is “I Am Not a Hipster.” It’s about a young singer-songwriter in San Diego who is learning to deal with the loss of his mother. There are five live music performances in the film, which all interact with the story and elaborate the characters. Liljestrand’s first entry at the Hawaii Film Festival is called “‘Ape,” the name of a plant used by Native Hawaiians as a test to determine if someone was real or a spirit. The subject in the film is Daniel, a young man who suffers from mental illness and travels to Hana in a form of self-therapy, but once there, reality fades further away. “Making this film was a great education as I am constantly learning to make movies,” Liljestrand said.
Asked to give advice to young people interested in filmmaking, Cretton said, “Just find a story that is close to you and figure out a way to tell it. Maui locals are natural masters of the craft so if that’s what you’re interested in, just go for it.” Liljestrand added, “It all boils down to telling a story, so write, draw, take photographs, whatever you can do to tell a story.”