''HIFF is a must attend'' (Entertainment Weekly), "the premiere American showcase for Asian cinema" (Hollywood Reporter) and "a launching pad for early films by younger directors" (Roger Ebert). Now in its 40th year, HIFF is the festival of record for emerging works from the Pacific Rim, a destination of award winning films from major film festivals around the world, and an incubator for Hawaii-based and Native Hawaiian works that come from the vibrant and local creative industries. The festival has featured premiere screenings of many acclaimed films, including festival premieres such as JOJO RABBIT, JUST MERCY, PARASITE, SHOPLIFTERS, ROMA, MOONLIGHT, THE IMITATION GAME, CAROL, THE ARTIST, THE HOST, DEPARTURES, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON and many more.

Past honorees include Quentin Tarantino, Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou, Samuel L Jackson, Koji Yakusho and Maggie Cheung, who all received lifetime achievement awards. Other guests include legendary Hong Kong director Wong Kar Wai (IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE, CHUNGKING EXPRESS), maverick indie director Kevin Smith (CLERKS, DOGMA), cinematographer Matthew Libatique (IRON MAN, THE FOUNTAIN, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM), Japanese actor Ken Watanabe (LETTERS FROM IWO JIMA, LAST SAMURAI), anime master Satoshi Kon (PAPRIKA, MILLENNIUM ACTRESS, PERFECT BLUE), Indian American actor Kal Penn (HAROLD AND KUMAR GO TO WHITE CASTLE) and New Zealand impresarios Jemaine Clement (FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS) and Taika Waititi (HUNT FOR THE WILDER PEOPLE, WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS, THOR: RAGNAROK).

HIFF’s mission to enlighten, empower and entertain through the medium of film is paramount to being an integral part of Hawaii’s arts and culture community. Aside from exhibiting films from around the world, the Festival serves as a creative hub for individuals interested in cinema culture, either as a casual fan or for career development. HIFF’s education initiatives include free school screenings for middle and high school students statewide, and a filmmaking workshop for youth in partnership with the Daniel K. Inouye Institute, plus panels and seminars including the annual Sound x Vision seminar examining music in film, and a new annual 'town hall' discussion for local filmmakers and content creators.

The 40th Annual Hawaii International Film Festival will be held November 5-15, 2020 in Honolulu on the island of Oahu. HIFF will mark the festival's 40th edition with a special focus on contemporary Asian, Pacific, and North American cinema, films produced in Hawaii, outdoor screenings, and our Student Showcase and Daniel K. Inouye Youth Initiative for filmmakers under 18 from Hawaii.

We encourage filmmakers to submit works from any genre. We are especially interested in feature films, documentaries, short films, Hawaii-themed films, and films by indigenous Pacific filmmakers.

HIFF Grand Jury Award - Hawaii Competition

HIFF is proud to present TWO Grand Jury Awards for Best Hawaii Feature Film and Best Hawaii Short Film during the fall festival. All films “Made in Hawaii” are eligible for one of these two prestigious awards, which will be adjudicated by two grand juries made up of local and visiting film professionals. The purpose of this award is to reignite the already growing excellence in local cinema production via fiction and non-fiction narratives and to put a spotlight on emerging and established media makers from Hawaii, producing films about and set in this unique, vibrant and precious culture and state.

Sponsor: Hawaii Film Office


Kau Ka Hōkū Award presented by Hawaiian Airlines

The KAU KA HŌKŪ (Shooting Star) Award presented by Hawaiian Airlines will be awarded to an emerging filmmaker (first or second feature film). Both fiction and non-fiction feature films will be nominated by the festival programmers and adjudicated by an international jury.

Sponsor: Hawaiian Airlines



Founded in 1990 by Cinemaya and UNESCO, the Network for the Promotion of Asian-Pacific Cinema (NETPAC) is an international not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting Asian and Pacific film throughout the world. The prestigious NETPAC award is given at select international film festivals to promote Asian and Pacific cinema by spotlighting exceptional works and discovering new talent. The NETPAC award is presented annually at international film festivals in Berlin, Cannes, Venice, Rotterdam, Busan, Singapore, Taiwan, Yamagata, Amiens and Hawaii. HIFF is the only film festival in North America given permission to present the NETPAC award. The 2018 Hawaii International Film Festival NETPAC Award winner will be selected from all 1st and 2nd directorial efforts of Asian and Pacific feature films playing at this year’s festival. The winner will be announced during the Awards Ceremony and Reception by the NETPAC jury.

Sponsor: NETPAC

This prize is shared with Narrative Feature, Pacific Islander Showcase Features & Shorts and Made in Hawaii Features & Shorts categories.


Audience Choice Award

The Festival’s most coveted awards for Favorite Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature and Short Film brings the power to the people and are determined purely by audience voting. Previous winners ranged from awards buzz worthy films like LION and THE EAGLE HUNTRESS to locally made films like HO’OMAU and cult films like WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS.

Sponsor: Hawaii News Now KHNL/KGMB/KFVE


HIFF Grand Jury - Best Short Film

The Festival will give out one award for Best Short Film. With the rich plethora of perspectives provided by short films, HIFF’s mission is to champion emerging voices from around the world in the most dominant and voluminous format in the film festival circuit. Short films are sometimes under-appreciated and the goal of these awards is to shine a light on this very malleable format and a small glimpse of perspectives from across the globe.

Sponsor: Halekulani

Your submission must be postmarked by the appropriate deadline listed above and include the correct entry fee. We will not consider films submitted after the final deadline.

Films must have been completed after January 1, 2019.

Films must not have had any commercial, theatrical, video on demand, or television play in Hawaii (Hawaii premiere requirement). Feature-length films must not have had any public or festival screenings in the state of Hawaii.

Films may be of any length, and of any genres, including features, documentaries, shorts, student films, and experimental films. We are particularly interested in presenting U.S. and World Premieres. The Festival will consider works-in-progress, films with temporary sound tracks, digital outputs, and work that did not originate from film.

All films with dialogue in a language other than English must be subtitled in English for Festival presentation.

Entries must be submitted via password protected link. Passwords should be active for the duration of the submission process.

We will inform you of our selection decision in September 2020.


NARRATIVE FEATURE. Must be a fictional story that is 40 minutes or more in length.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE. Must be a non-fictional story that is 40 minutes or more in length.

NARRATIVE SHORT. Must be a fictional story that is 39 minutes or less in length.

DOCUMENTARY. Must be a non-fictional story that is 39 minutes or less in length.

PACIFIC ISLANDER SHOWCASE FEATURES AND SHORTS. Films must be made by FIRST PEOPLES from the Pacific Rim, specifically, Hawaii, Polynesia, Oceania and Australasia. Submissions can be either a fictional or non-fictional story.

MADE IN HAWAII. This section is for documentaries and narratives of any length that meet two of the three following standards:
1. Principally filmed in the State of Hawaii.
2. Are about the history and culture of the Hawaiian Islands.
3. Key cast or crew (director, producer, screenwriter, and actors) must be current residents of Hawaii.



STUDENT (Hawaii Residents, Under 18 only). This category applies to Hawaii residents only. The films must be between 2 and 20 minutes in length. The student film category includes all genres made by students in grades Kindergarten to 12th grade.

DANIEL K. INOUYE YOUTH INITIATIVE (Hawaii Residents, Under 18 Only). This category applies to Hawaii residents only. Rules and conditions vary year to year, please check our website www.hiff.org for the most up to date information.

Overall Rating
  • Sujata Day

    Truly a lovely virtual festival! Thanks so much for the thought-provoking Q&A and excellent communication. The swag gift box was a welcome surprise and full of local goodies. Looking forward to coming back in person with my future films!

    December 2020