Big Island Film Festival Offering Educational Component

The Big Island International Film Festival will present an educational component at this year’s 11th annual event. The festival is again showcasing outstanding indie cinema, music, culinary events and the world class hospitality presented by the Fairmont Orchid Resort.

Photo by Kirk Aeder

Photo by Kirk Aeder

The Big Island International Film Festival is hosting two special industry workshops on Friday May 27, 2016. These added value events are free and have appeal to all emerging filmmakers, entertainer’s, students and cinema lovers alike. The seminars take place at the Fairmont Orchid Hawai’i, and there will be daytime film screenings, indoors at the Lehua Theatre and evening movies under the stars at Plantation Estate.

First off, at 9:45 a.m., Jen Grisanti will be presenting, “TELLING AND SELLING YOUR STORY”.

Jen Grisanti

Jen Grisanti

She will illustrate proven techniques to raise the elements of a screenplay and increase your opportunities for marketability. A longtime television programmer, Grisanti will highlight how to bring emotion into your script.

At 4:30 p.m., Raymond Rolak, veteran sports producer and content provider, will be speaking on, “THE HARMONY OF MUSIC AND CINEMA”.

Ray RolakRolak will also showcase new trends in product placement, trans-media and the important implications of IRS Section-181 for indie investments.

The BIIFF will have 58 films, with seven from the State of Hawai’i and three produced on the Big Island. Speaking at a recent announcement of the festival Executive Director Leo Sears said, “I am so impressed with the quality of films this year.” He added, “Picking the Official Selections was very difficult. The features are excellent, and the shorts are so good that we added an extra film block so we could show six more. This is a great selection that any movie-lover will enjoy and we hope everybody will come and support indie films with us.”

There are also receptions with featured guests Bellamy Young and Michael Gross. Also there are free children’s films at, The Shops at Mauna Lani. A host of events can be accessed thru the BIIFF website.

The BIIFF concludes with a “Best of the Fest” concert featuring HAPA on Memorial Day, Monday, 5-7 p.m. at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii Plantation Estate, near the Tennis Park. It will be followed by the Best Short Film and Best Feature, chosen by audience votes. There’s also a silent auction to benefit Fisher House at Tripler Army Medical Center.

Portia Doubleday Receives Golden Honu Award at Big Island Film Festival

Last night at the Big Island Film Festival, there was a celebrity salute and reception for actress Portia Doubleday.

Big Island Film Festival Founder & Executive Leo Sears presents Doubleday with a Golden Honu Award

Big Island Film Festival Founder & Executive Leo Sears presents Doubleday with a Golden Honu Award

Portia was awarded a “Golden Honu” award for being a “Star to Watch”.   She answered questions from folks attending the Festival and then afterwards people got to meet with her and have a reception that was sponsored by Kenwood Wines and the Fairmont Orchid.

The reception sponsored by Kenwood Wines and the Fairmont Orchid

The reception sponsored by Kenwood Wines and the Fairmont Orchid

Portia most recently co-starred opposite Chloe Moretz in CARRIE as bad girl Chris Hargensen and has a cameo opposite Joaquin Phoenix as the sex surrogate in Spike Jonze critically acclaimed film HER.

A star to watch!

A star to watch!

Portia also co-starred alongside Martin Lawrence and Brandon T. Jackson in 20th Century Fox’s BIG MOMMAS: LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON.  She starred in her first leading role opposite Michael Cera in Miguel Artera’s film YOUTH IN REVOLT, which was named one of the ten best films of the year by the National Board of Review.

Portia with Photographer Kirk Aeder

Portia with Photographer Kirk Aeder

I had an opportunity to have a one-on-one interview with Portia and here are some of the things she shared with me:

Deep Thoughts with Doubleday!

Deep Thoughts with Doubleday!

Aloha Portia welcome to Hawaii… have you been here before?

The first time I came to Hawaii was six months ago and I stayed in Maui but I love the Big Island, I went “Snubaing” today on a boat and supposedly went to one of the ten most beautiful places in the world… It’s paradise here, I love it!

So you’re here for the Big Island Film Festival, can you tell me about some of the projects you are working on?

I just got finished with a movie called “Act of All” filmed in Montreal where I play a girl and a boy and that movie should be coming out in about six months or so… I literally just got through filming it about 7 days ago so this is a really nice little vacation for me.

Where are you from in California and what High School did you go to?

I grew up in Hancock Park and went to Laces on 18th street which was a college-prep school where I did drama, choir and dance there.

What got you into acting?

I come from an acting family as both my parents were actors, my plan was that I would go to school and get my degree and then when I was trained when I was like 30 I would start acting around then… I hadn’t planned on acting as young as I am at all… it just kind of happened that way.

I went to a program at Cal Arts and Academy of Dramatic Arts and studied while I was in school and to me auditioning was just for fun as a I was a psychology major… and I just kind of jumped into the game. I’m still in school, I have been now for 6 years and I’m determined to get my degree.

Out of all the projects that you have worked on what was your favorite?

It’s really hard to say because I have a different taste in my mouth for all of them… I love what I do so I’m most comfortable on the set… I love all the projects for different reasons but I really loved doing “Carrie”.

So for all single guys out there… are you married or are you in a relationship?

Not married… I am single…. (laughs)

What do you plan on doing after you leave the Big Island?

Crying… because I’m going to miss it here… tomorrow I’ll be swimming with the dolphins.

How can fans follow you in the future?

Well I’m on Instagram at @PortiaDD. I have a twitter account but I don’t know how to use it. I think the last tweet I sent out said “I don’t know how to use Twitter”…. But I know how to use instagram.

Portia and some dude!

Portia and some dude!

Big Island Film Festival Deadline for Submissions Coming Up

February 1, 2012 is the final deadline to submit films for the 7th annual Big Island Film Festival (BIFF) at Mauna Lani Resort.  Just acclaimed as one of MovieMaker Magazine’s “Cool Fests 2011: Counting Down 20 Can’t-Miss Festivals,” BIFF 2012 takes place May 24-28, on location at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i and The Shops at Mauna Lani.

An outdoor screening at The Shops at Mauna Lani

Narrative short films (30 minutes or less) and feature length films (60 minutes or more) completed after January 1, 2011 will be considered for “Golden Honu Awards” in various categories including Family, Animated, Foreign and others. Final Entry Fees are $70 Feature, $60 Short, $40 Student.  Entries prior to January 1, 2012 are $60, $50 and $35.  Submissions may be made directly to BIFF or via  All films shot in Hawai‘i or created by Hawai‘i filmmakers receive a 25% discount when submitted directly to BIFF (verification required).

“We are excited about our new Festival dates in 2012,” said Executive Director/Founder Leo Sears of Waikoloa.  “By pushing it forward to Memorial Day Weekend, May 24-28, we’re hoping to make it easier for filmmakers, visitors and kama‘āina to come to the festival, relax and enjoy the holiday weekend – all the way through our ‘Best of the Fest’ Hawaiian music concert and Audience Choice feature and short movies on Monday night.”

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking, with free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, and daytime screenings, nightly double features and shorts from Hawai‘i and around the world at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai‘i.  Other events include celebrity receptions, filmmaking workshops and much more, in the spectacular Kohala Coast resort location.

In addition to its recent accolades, BIFF has been among MovieMaker Magazine’s “25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,” and “25 Coolest Film Festivals” since 2007.  It is sponsored by The Fairmont Orchid, Hawai’i, The Shops at Mauna Lani, HTA/Hawai’i County CPEP and others.  For more information visit or call 808-883-0394, or find them on Twitter and Facebook.

2011 Big Island Film Festival… And the Winners Are

The 2011 Big Island Film Festival awards were held this morning at the Fairmont Orchid Resort.

group shot

The group shot (click for larger version)

Festival Director Leo Sears addressed the group around 10:00 and folks started in on their food.

Leo Sears

Leo Sears addresses the audience

Anna Akaka, wife of Danny Akaka, Jr., lead off the opening pule and blessed the crowd and the filmmakers for making it a great festival this year.

The filmmakers enjoying brunch

The filmmakers enjoying brunch

Golden Honu Award recipient Kristina Anapau and her boyfriend Moran Cerf were in attendance.

Kristina Anapau and her boyfriend Moran Cerf

Mr. Sears began by thanking the Sponsors of the Festival such as the Fairmont Orchid, the Shops at Mauna Lani, the County of Hawaii and John Mason with the Hawaii County Film Office, “Redeeming Light International” as well as others were also thanked.


Kenwood Vineyards was recognized as a “big sponsor” since they have sponsored the festival for so many years.

Some Kenwood wines

Some Kenwood wines

Naketha Mattocks was recognized for her support and workshop that she put on called “The Inside Pitch” and Ron Osborn was recognized for his continual work with the festival.

Ron Osborn

Ron Osborn

Mayor Kenoi was on hand and signed a bottle of wine that all of the celebrities and filmmakers signed that would be auctioned off later for the Wounded Warriors project.

Mayor Kenoi signs a bottle of Kenwood Vineyards wine

Mayor Kenoi signs a bottle of Kenwood Vineyards wine while BIFF Director Leo Sears looks on

Actress Sarah Wayne Callies who was the recipient of the “No Ka Oi” award earlier in the week was also present.

Mayor Kenoi, Film Commissioner John Mason and Actress Sarah Wayne Callies

Mayor Kenoi, Film Commissioner John Mason and Actress Sarah Wayne Callies

An autographed picture of Kristina Anapau was auctioned off for charity as well and I just had to drop the big bucks to keep my son happy!

Hayden with an autographed photo of Kristina Anapau

Hayden with an autographed photo of Kristina Anapau

I’d like to thank all those that worked so hard to put this on and especially thank Leo Sears for working so hard at ensuring such a smooth festival happens.

Leo Sears

Mahalo Leo... Who needs drive-in movies when we have the Big Island Film Festival?

Media Release:

Twelve films received Golden Honu Awards at the 6thAnnual Big Island Film Festival today.  Best Feature went to “Queen of the Lot,” starring Tanna Frederick and Noah Wyle, written and directed by Henry Jaglom, produced by Rosemary Marks.

Celebrity actresses Sarah Wayne Callies (“The Walking Dead”) and Hilo’s own Kristina Anapau (“Black Swan”) were present to receive special “No Ka Oi” awards from Big Island Film Festival Executive Director Leo Sears.

Leo Sears and Kristina Anapau

Leo Sears and Kristina Anapau (Photo Courtesy of Devany-Vickery Davidson)

Winners were selected from 63 entries from across the country and around the world, including 10 made in Hawai’i.  The made-on-Maui film, “Get A Job,” starring Willie K, Eric Gilliom, Augie T, Henry Kapono and many other top Hawaiian entertainers, won 2011 Audience Choice Feature.

Get a Job!

Get a Job!

2011 Big Island Film Festival Golden Honu Awards:

Actress “No Ka Oi” – Sarah Wayne Callies

Leo Sears presents Sarah Wayne Callies the "No Ka Oi" Award

Leo Sears presents Sarah Wayne Callies the "No Ka Oi" Award (Photo Courtesy of Devany Vickery-Davidson)

Actress “No Ka Oi” – Kristina Anapau

Kristina Anapau

Kristina Anapau

The Barbara Award – “Regular Kids”


Best Family Short – “The Green Tie Affair”


Best Animated Short – “Bait”

Best Hawaiian Short – “Layover, On the Shore”


Best Foreign Short – “Futility”

Best Student Short – “Thief”

Best Short – “Wounded”

The Producer of "Wounded" receives his award

The Producer of "Wounded" receives his award

Best Family Feature – “Trainmaster II: Jeremiah’s Treasure”


“Best Student Feature” – “Farmer’s Tan”


Best Hawaiian Feature – “Get A Job”

Writer/Director Brian Kohne, Leo Sears and Eric Gilliom

Best Foreign Feature – “The Drummond Will”


Best Feature – “Queen of the Lot”


Audience Choice Short – “The Historian Paradox”

The Historian Paradox

The Historian Paradox wins an award

Audience Choice Feature – “Get A Job


Some of the winners that were present to receive their awards:


Some of the 2011 Big Island Film Festival Winners

CALL FOR ENTRIES – 2011 Big Island Film Festival at Mauna Lani Resort, May 11-15, 2011

Media Release:

Hawaiian music, moonlight and movies make Mauna Lani Resort a must for filmmakers, fans and friends in May, when the Big Island Film Festival returns for its sixth year.  One of MovieMaker Magazine’s “25 Film Festivals Worth the Entry Fee,” and “25 Coolest Film Festivals”.  BIFF 2011 is now accepting entries for the May 11-15 event, on location at two luxury hotel properties and premier resort shopping center.

BIFF Director Leo Sears gives actor Tom Berrenger the "Golden Honu" award at the 2010 BIFF

A celebration of independent narrative filmmaking, BIFF 2011 includes screenings, social events and networking opportunities, celebrity receptions, screenwriting workshop and a closing night “Best of the Fest” with a top Hawaiian music concert and movies chosen from Festival entries.  Last year’s celebrity honorees included screenwriter Ron Osborn (“Moonlighting”), filmmaker Scott Stewart (“Legion”) and actors Tom Berenger (“Platoon”) and Cary Hiroyuki-Tagawa (“Mortal Kombat”).

Narrative short films (30 minutes or less) and feature length (60 minutes or more) completed after January 1, 2010 will be considered.  Deadlines are:
•    “Early Bird” November 1, 2010. Early Bird Entry Fees: $50 Feature, $40 Short, $30 Student
•    Regular January 1, 2011. Regular Entry Fees: $60 Feature, $50 Short, $35 Student
•    Late/Final February 1, 2011. Late Entry Fees:  $70 Feature, $60 Short, $40 Student

All films shot in Hawaii or created by filmmakers who live in Hawaii receive a 25% discount on entry fees (verification required).

BIFF 2011’s “Golden Honu” will be awarded to the Best Feature and Best Short in Overall, Family, Student, Animated, Foreign and Hawaii categories at a special Awards Brunch to honor the filmmakers and their works on Sunday, May 15.  Numerous alumni films have won awards at prestigious film festivals around the world, and achieved commercial success in the industry.

“Lunatics, Lovers, and Poets” (BIFF 2009) was distributed in 10 states through Carmike Cinemas, and by North American Home Entertainment DVD contract with Seminal Films.  “Remarkable Power” starring Kevin Nealon (2009 BIFF Best Feature) was released through most cable outlets as a PPV title before DVD release.  “Two Tickets to Paradise” (BIFF 2008), and “Rain in the Mountains” and “Sixes and the One-Eyed King” (BIFF 2007) have been released on DVD.

“As we approach our sixth Big Island Film Festival, judging by the quality of films submitted in the past, we are absolutely ready to see the next ‘Little Miss Sunshine’ or the next ‘Honokaa Boy,’” said Executive Director Leo Sears.  “Fans are more sophisticated and open to independent films than ever, especially those brilliant, different gems that surprise us.  And when you bring your film to BIFF in Hawaii, you can’t have a more receptive, more spectacular and beautiful place to introduce it than the Mauna Lani Resort.”

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is a celebration of narrative filmmaking, with free family films under the stars at The Shops at Mauna Lani, international features and shorts screened at The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii and Mauna Lani Bay Hotel & Bungalows, stellar social events, celebrity receptions, awards and much more in an outstanding island setting.

For submission rules and application visit  For further information call 808-883-0394.

Leo Sears From the Big Island Film Festival at Mauna Lani Resort Earns International Certification

BIFF Founder/Executive Director Leo Sears presents actor Tom Berenger with the 2010 “Golden Honu” Award. (Photo by Jeff Sears)

Media Release:

At the recent convention of the International Festivals & Events Association (IFEA), September 15-17, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri, Leo Sears received professional designation as a Certified Festival and Event Executive (CFEE).

Initiated by the IFEA in 1983, and sponsored by K & K Insurance, the certification program recognizes professionals in the festivals and events industry who have attained the highest level of competency in their field.   Requirements for obtaining the CFEE designation include experiential career achievements; required course work; published article(s) based on research pertaining to events; professional speaking requirements; and meeting the professional standards of the association and its assessment board.  The program typically takes three years to complete.

“The CFEE designation is a mark of distinction. These individuals have proven their commitment to continuous learning and professional growth, which in turn translates into the continued growth and success of their own festivals/events, as well as our industry as a whole,” states IFEA President & CEO, Steven Wood Schmader, CFEE.

Sears, a SAG actor, screenwriter, playwright, teacher and Executive Director of Big Island Film Festival, joins over 255 other festival/event professionals from around the world who have earned their CFEE certification since the program’s inception 25 years ago.  The 2011 Big Island Film Festival takes place May 11-15 at Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island-Hawai’i.

Headquartered in Boise Idaho, the IFEA is a non-profit membership organization with members spanning 40 countries and 5 continents, and offers the most complete source of ideas, resources, information, education and networking for festivals and event professionals world-wide.  For more information on the IFEA, please go to

Big Island Film Festival Going on Now!

Media Release:

66 independent narrative films have been selected for the 2010 Big Island Film Festival, happening May 12-16 at Mauna Lani Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii.  Entries from 10 foreign countries join 56 American films including 11 shot in Hawaii locations, for a full slate of thrillers, dramas, comedies, family and animated films—altogether 12 features and 54 shorts.

“The shorts are really strong this year,” said Executive Producer Leo Sears.  “We’ve been very impressed with the quality as well as the quantity.  Maybe it has to do with the popularity of short video as an art form since You Tube has evolved.  These are really good stories being told in a very concise and entertaining way.”

Highlights include the new short, “The Adventures of Chang Apana,” based on the real-life Honolulu detective who inspired “Charlie Chan.”  Cary Hiroyuki Tagawa produced and stars in the film and will attend screenings on Wednesday, May 12 and Sunday, May 16 at the Best of the Fest event.

“Charlie Valentine,” a crime thriller with Raymond J. Barry and Michael Weatherly, also stars veteran actor Tom Berenger who will appear at the film screening Friday, May 14.


Hawaii is well represented, with everything from A to Z.  “Aloha Daze” starring Pomaika’i Brown makes its world premiere at BIFF 2010


Zombies storm the screen in “The Rising Dead” from Cousins Brothers Productions.  Other notable entries include BIFF’s first Marshall Islands entry, “Yokwe Bartowe,” a modern take on a mythical island bird-sorceress.


“Ajumma! Are you Krazy??”  a hilarious look at Korean soap opera fans.


“We’re going to kick of the Festival with five free, family-friendly films including ‘Ajumma,” said Sears.  “Plus we will be showing several of the Hawaii movies and introducing our celebrity guests.  So we hope everybody will come down to The Shops at Mauna Lani on Wednesday May 12 at 7:30 p.m. and give them a big, Big Island welcome.”

The Big Island “Talk Story” Film Festival is happening May 12-16, 2010 at Mauna Lani Resort, “on location” in two luxury hotels, retail shopping center and restaurants.  Rated one of the Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals by MovieMaker Magazine, the 5th annual BIFF is a celebration of independent filmmaking with movies, special events, Hawaiian culture and music, embraced by the Spirit of Aloha.

Mauna Lani Resort will offer accommodations at two ocean front luxury resorts, The Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows and The Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii, along with unparalleled shopping at The Shops at Mauna Lani. Both hotels are offering very special Festival Rates starting from $199 per room per night.  Please make room reservations with the hotels directly.

For information or to purchase BIFF tickets online, visit


Official Selections for BIFF 2010

4 Pictures

About the Keiki

Adventures in Speed Dating

Ajumma! Are you Krazy??

Aloha Daze

An Affair with Dolls


Beyond Words

Blind Date

Blue Bus

Breaking Up

Broken Dreams

Broken Hill

Charlie Valentine

Crossing the Line

Dark Horse

Dash Cunning

Decklin and the Dentist


Finn on the Fly

Hamlet, but you didn’t hear it from me

Help Yourself

Horn Dog

In Fidelity

Jake’s Corner

Journey of a Paper Son

L’Aislo di Brea

La Isla Edena

Last Night, Long Ago

Ledo and Ix Go to Town

Lettuce Break Bread

Life Lines

Live Tonight

Losing Isaac

Lott Oh

Lucky Lotus

Lychee Thieves


Official Selection

One Night

One Year


Porcelain & Diamonds


Shattered Pieces

Sin City, Sincerely




Take my Wife


The Legend of Chang Apana

The Best Part of My Day

The Cow Who Wanted to be Hamburger

The Despensables

The Finding

The Magistical

The RIsing Dead

The Sierra

The SToop

The Terms

Tick Tock

Wanna Play

Who’s Good Looking?

Yokwe Bartowe

Your Lucky Day