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Taiwan Features Shine at the 43rd Hawaii International Film Festival

  • Date:2023-10-06


The 43rd Hawaii International Film Festival announces this year’s lineup. Three Taiwanese features are among those mentioned in the list of award nominees. "Be with Me" for the Kau Ka Hōkū Award; "A Girl Out of the Country" and "My Heavenly City" for the Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award.

“KAU KA HŌKŪ,” which translates to “shining star,” is an accolade designated to spotlight emerging filmmakers crafting their first or second feature films. The NETPAC Award is dedicated to promoting outstanding Asian films and filmmakers on the  global stage. Remarkably, the Hawaii International Film Festival stands as the sole festival in the United States to host the NETPAC Award

“Be With Me” has earned its place among 27 features from around the globe that were selected for the Venice Gap-Financing Market. Hwarng Wern-ying’s directorial debut, “Be With Me,” depicts the protagonist’s struggles with her career, love, and family. She leaves her job and her tangled love, returning to her hometown in Chiayi to take care of her sick father. During this period, she reconnects with the God her family believes in, which recalls her childhood spent with her grandfather. Hwarng Wern-ying won the Golden Horse Award for Best Art Design and Makeup and Costume Design for "Flowers of Shanghai" and “Assassin,” respectively, and was selected as a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

“A Girl out of the Country” begins with a country girl dreaming of becoming a superstar, only to be ensnared and sold into a harrowing life of prostitution, ultimately finding herself working as a hostess at a teahouse in Taipei. This film sheds light on the dark underbelly of prostitution culture and human trafficking in early Taiwan. The storyline offers a realistic portrayal of the hidden world of private prostitution within Taiwanese teahouses. “My Heavenly City” was adapted from the short by Taiwanese new-generation director Yu Sen-I. Through three interconnected stories, the film delves into how the immigrants in New York search for their love and identities. Nominated for the NETPAC Award, these two films mark Bruce Chiu’s and Yu Sen-I directorial debuts, serving as a testament to their unlimited potential as emerging directors. Directors of these three nominated films will be in attendance for a post-screening Q&A session.

In addition to the nominated films, the Taiwan Academy of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Los Angeles has partnered with HIFF to present the Spotlight on Taiwan Program. This program highlights a diverse range of films from Taiwan. Fu Tien-Yu, the director of the feature “Day Off,” portrays the daily interaction between a diligent hairdresser and her customers, which reveals a profound exploration of the meaning of life. Furthermore, the short film “Island in Between” by S. Leo Chiang explores the uneasy tranquility on the Kinmen Islands.

The 43rd Annual Hawaii International Film Festival will take place October 12-22, 2023 on O‘ahu and through November 5, 2023 on Neighbor Islands! For more information about “Spotlight on Taiwan,” please visit