Love is Found in Small Corners


Grant Okazaki

Love in Small Corners Directors give a Q&A session after the screening

By Grant Okazaki, Staff Writer

The Hawaii International Film Festival is in it’s 36th year and features films from around the Pacific Rim. This seasons first short film collection debuted on Friday, Nov. 4 called, “Love in Small Corners.” This series features six short films made in Australia, Macau, Shanghai, Taiwan, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles. The common theme among these films are that they showcase dealing with practical everyday life. How the human spirit aspires to become happy or greater than they currently are at the moment.

“Whether it be familial love, romantic love, or love for your common man, it makes the world go round. ‘Love in Small Corners’ features little stories of love, heartbreak, and redemption from around the globe.” (HIFF)

The first film, “Coin Boy” by director Li Chuan-Yang is a story about a boy who counts coins that his father gave him in order to attend a camping trip sponsored by the elementary school. The other classmates pay in large bills and when it is his turn to pay, he is ashamed to have to carry a bag full of coins to pay with. His teacher refuses to accept the coins despite its value as currency because she wouldn’t take the time to count them all. His father arrives late to pick up his son but they go around to different stores placing new stuffed toys in claw machines and collecting the deposited coins.

I feel like this was an experimental film that explored a side of daily life in Taiwan. A single father trying to raise his son and he is the one collecting the coins. I was disappointed by the fact that there wasn’t an apparent direction with overall arching story. The story felt familiar in capturing the everyday life and troubles but nothing exceptional.

The second film, “Lullaby” by director Stanley Xu is a story about a family whose grandmother is old but they want to go on one more vacation to Hong Kong. The grandmother watches the grandson and talks about when she was younger when her son was a baby. She sings him to sleep and she falls asleep alongside her grandson.

I felt like this was another glimpse of nothing miraculous from an outsider’s point of view but if you look closer, you can see the bond the grandmother has with her grandson and her connections with the family. A simple, yet sweet reprisal of modern film.

“Song on Canvas” by director Keo Woolford is a story of a son who lost his mother due to illness. He retraces his lost moments before she died, imagining what their last conversation would’ve been like had he been there for her. His passion before taking on a office job was painting which he gave up because of his father’s disapproval. An unfinished canvas painting is blacked out to reveal a renewed picture of his mother in her honor.

I cherished this one because of the heartfelt response to the story of loss and love. What we cannot take back from time, we must approach it with daring response to not lose opportunities and incur regret.

“Wonderland” by director Tiffanie Hsu is a story about a mother Susan (Joan Chen) and daughter Adeline (Audrey Hui) visiting Las Vegas and Susan gambles away while the Adeline checks up on her mother to make sure she is alright. Things get out of hand and Adeline wants to somehow disappear magically. She comes across a magician who helps her realize her goal of being set free. Susan desperately wants to make things right again, but it is too late. Adeline has vanished.

I really enjoyed watching this short film about the torrid relationship between a mother and daughter where the adult is the child and vice versa. Director Tiffanie Hsu spoke about what it would be like if the adult was a child in an adult playground.

“The Spa” by director Will Goodfellow is a story about an elderly man Don (Chris Haywood) who has come home to find a jacuzzi waiting for him to be installed. When Don wants the jacuzzi to be sent back, delivery man Ivan (Jay Laga’aia) suspects there is something else going on behind the refusal of a nice, new jacuzzi. Don says it was a retirement gift from his wife Genevieve (Helen Tonkin). Ivan finds a pamphlet of Genevieve’s funeral and decides that he and his crew Moose (Sean Conway) and Leeroy (Peter Moalaeua) install the jacuzzi and keep him company while watching a rugby match on TV. Don reminisces about what it would be like to have his wife enjoying the jacuzzi with him and that’s all he thinks about.

This was a nice story about loss and continuing on from that moment of emptiness. In the end, we are not alone and instead accompanied by the people who choose to stand beside us in the best and worst times. In place of his wife, Don found three new friends to spend his life with.

“Log in Dinner” directed by Cheong Chi Wai is about a grandfather who tries to reconnect with his son’s family in the age of computers and modern technology. For his grandson’s birthday, he tries to give him a baseball bat, but the grandson refuses. Discouraged by the family’s attitude toward Western culture, he sets off to find his own connection to the internet. He finds a computer shop where a young man helps him set up a computer with an internet connection. Grateful, he cooks up some dishes that he used to make when he was a chef of his restaurant. Suddenly, the old man finds himself alone with the computer screen streaming a video of a woman who invites people to eat with her. The old man forms a bond with the woman, cooking her dinner and eating along with her every night.

This was my favorite film because it was so rich in the acting to the story of a longing for connection in the modern world. Director Wai speaks about it through his translator and the difficulties making the film.