Last Chance to Enter Films and Screenplays for 2015 Big Island Film Festival

Now in its tenth year, the Big Island Film Festival at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i (BIFF) invites filmmakers and screenwriters to enter their project before the final deadline, Feb. 1, 2015. Complete rules and submission guidelines are available at www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com, for entering by mail or online via www.FilmFreeway.com.

Known as the “talk story” film festival, BIFF takes place May 21-25, 2015 at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, and presents a full slate of new, narrative feature-length and short films in a luxurious oceanfront resort setting. Specializing in narrative films, as opposed to documentaries, BIFF provides a perfect complement to Hawai‘i Island’s film festival circuit and much-needed opportunity for filmmakers locally and internationally.

For the first time, BIFF’s script contest will open the door for one winning screenplay to be considered for representation by the Paradigm Agency, one of the industry’s best, with divisions in Beverly Hills, Monterey, Nashville and New York. The contest is open to all completed narrative film scripts that meet submission guidelines.

Photo by Kirk Aeder

Photo by Kirk Aeder

Attended by returning visitors and independent filmmakers from around the world, as well as local residents who love movies, BIFF also hosts notable workshop leaders, such as NBC story consultant Jen Grisanti and screenwriter Ron Osborn of “West Wing” fame, among others.  Last year’s celebrity  honorees were Portia Doubleday of “Carrie,” and “Twighlight” series star Jackson Rathbone who enjoyed interacting with island audiences during in-depth interviews and informal garden receptions.

One of BIFF’s many success stories last year is Best Hawai’i Feature and Audience Choice Feature, “The Haumana,” by Keo Woolford, now available on DVD after an unprecedented multi-national fesitval tour.  The intriguing sci-fi hit “Time Lapse” has continued to garner  prestigious festival awards internationally, and the haunting drama of homelessness, “3:13” (now in distribution) received accolades from the film industry as well as mental health and homeless advocate organizations.  “Druid Peak,” a drama about a young man’s relationship with wolves, is just being released in theaters after winning numerous festival laurels.

Big Island Film Festival Class of 2014.  (Photo Kirk Aeder)

Big Island Film Festival Class of 2014. (Photo Kirk Aeder)

BIFF 2013 winner “Chasing Shakespeare,” directed by Norry Niven, and starring Graham Greene and Danny Glover, is now in distribution as “From Above.” Hawai‘i-made BIFF alumni films include wildly-popular comedy “Get A Job” by Maui filmmaker Brian Kohne, GB Hajim’s animated sci fi love story “Strange Frame” by HawaiiCon’s G.B. Hajim, and the poignant “Land of Eb” about South Kona’s Micronesian coffee worker community.

A celebration of narrative filmmaking, the complete BIFF experience includes not only film screenings for grown ups at The Fairmont Orchid Hawai‘i’s beautiful outdoor Plantation Estate, but free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, numerous networking and celebrity social events, feasts for foodies, screenwriting workshops and a closing night “Best of the Fest” with a top-rated Hawaiian music concert and movies chosen by the audience from Festival entries.  “Golden Honu” Awards will be presented to the Best Feature and Best Short in Family, Student, Animated, Foreign, Hawai‘i and Audience Choice categories at a special Awards Brunch to honor the filmmakers and their works on Monday, May 25.

BIFF would like to thank sponsors  The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i, The Shops at Mauna Lani, County of Hawai‘i, Dept. of R&D: CPEP Grant/Hawai‘i Tourism Authority, Kona Brewing Company, and others.

For detailed information visit www.BigIslandFilmFestival.com, find them on Facebook, or 808-883-0394.

Hawaii Parents Informed of Higher Learning Expectations for Public School Students

Public schools across the state today welcomed back students after a three-week winter break. Students were given a letter to take home to their parents as a reminder of the upcoming spring assessments for English language arts and math.

Click to read letter

Click to read letter

The new assessments, known as Smarter Balanced, are aligned to the Hawaii Common Core standards implemented statewide at the start of the school year. The letter from Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi also included sample exercises explaining how students are being asked deeper questions that require critical thinking.

“New expectations for student learning mean we need new ways to measure how our students are performing,” stated Superintendent Matayoshi. “These new tests measure not only what students know, but also how well they can apply their knowledge in real-world situations.”

Smarter Balanced assessments will be administered beginning in March to students in grades three through eighth and high school juniors to measure their reading, math, writing, listening, research and thinking skills. Hawaii is a governing member of a multi-state consortium that has worked with teachers, parents and higher education faculty to develop the Smarter Balanced assessments. Over three million students across the consortium participated in the field test last year to ensure questions are valid, reliable and fair for all students.

“While this is a step forward in our plans to raise student achievement, we expect the change to the new test will result in lower scores as compared to previous years,” said Superintendent Matayoshi. “However, because it is a new test aligned to new standards, we will not be comparing the results to that of the old test. Results from this year are a new starting point for students.”

The results also benefit teachers. The Smarter Balanced Assessment System offers information during the year to give teachers and parents a better picture of where students are thriving and where they need help.

A number of schools held Smarter Balanced parent nights with activities during the fall. The parent letter includes additional assessment examples and tips for helping with homework.

For more information on how the Hawaii State Department of Education is striving higher with new learning standards and assessments, visit HawaiiPublicSchools.org.