The 36th edition of Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) presented by Halekulani announced their Audience Award winners today, presented by Hawaii News Now. Throughout the festival, ballots were distributed for the screenings of every eligible film during the festival. Audiences voted on their favorite narrative feature, documentary feature and short film.

Dev Patel and Rooney Mara star in LION
Dev Patel and Rooney Mara star in LION

“The audience has spoken and chose films that truly encapsulate HIFF’s mission statement in promoting cultural understanding through cinema. Each of these films are cross-cultural stories that provide a glimpse into worlds and communities we don’t see everyday.”  says Anderson Le, HIFF Co-Director of Programming.

The audience award for Best Narrative Feature goes to LION, directed Garth Davis and starring David Wenham, Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel, and Rooney Mara. LION is adapted from Saroo Brierley’s amazing memoir, follows a young man’s journey to find his lost family and his first home.

“This is an award worthy performance by Dev Patel,” says Le. “His performance, coupled with the incredible true story, is the perfect recipe for a life-affirming and engaging story that is truly universal.”

The audience award for Best Documentary Feature goes to THE EAGLE HUNTRESS directed by Otto Bell. The film tells the story of Aisholpan, a 13-year-old girl, as she trains to become the first female in twelve generations of her Kazakh family to become an eagle hunter, and rises to the pinnacle of a tradition that has been handed down from father to son for centuries.

“The incredible story of Aisholopan, the young heroine, charmed HIFF audiences” says Le. “when the credits rolled, there was thunderous applause. Many patrons approached me after the screening saying it was the best film they saw this year.”

hiff-hiff2016-hoomau-epk-295250The audience award for Best Short Film goes to HO’OMAU, directed by Kenji Doughty. The poignant film travels the audience back in time, in the wake of a significant migratory period; where a young chief, fueled by rage and resentment, sets out to rid his home of the newcomers who have populated his homeland.

“HO’OMAU being the Audience pick for Short Film just shows how far local filmmaking has come, especially stories about Native Hawaiians.” says Le. “This short is epic in scope and thrilling and it shows that Hawaii filmmakers are definitely competitive on the world stage.”

Also presented during the Gala were the Halekulani Golden Orchid awards for Best Narrative Feature MOONLIGHT, directed by Barry Jenkins; Best Documentary Feature Award to THE CINEMA TRAVELLERS, directed by Shirley Abraham and Ami Madheshiya; and Best Short Film Award to COIN BOY, directed by Li Chuan-Yang. KNIFE IN THE CLEAR WATER, by Wang Xuebo was presented with the NETPAC award.

The festival continues with select encore screenings on November 17-20, screening on Big Island and Kaua’i. For more information on the awards and jurors, please visit: http://www.hiff.org/awards-jurors/

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