13th Maui Film Festival a Roaring Success

James Marsden, Elizabeth Banks, Josh Radnor and others will enjoy screenings, panels, culinary events and more in tony Wailea

13th Maui Film Festival a Roaring Success

This Wednesday, June 13, 2012, a considerable amount of magic will unfold on the sugar sand beaches (and nearby climes) of Wailea, Maui. So will begin the 13th Annual Maui Film Festival—the brain child of Barry Rivers—and the unofficial pride of West Maui that enables A-list celebrities to rub elbows with the rest of us along a bucolic stretch of paradise (we really wanted to use another word here, but none fits as aptly).

Beginning at 8 p.m. for five consecutive evenings, Rivers will introduce a well-regarded celebrity in front of 2,000 (or so) film enthusiasts at the Celestial Cinema—a digital surround-sound, open-air “theater” set on the Wailea Golf Course with panoramic views of the ocean. Sprawled across the grass on blankets and bring-your-own chairs, film goers sip their own wine and dabble in their own cheese and hummus.

Shortly after the evening’s heralded celebrity accepts their award (and says a few kind words, usually of the “Wow, it’s just so amazing to be here!” variety), the only know film festival astronomer walks us through the nighttime sky while films are loaded onto a reel. Audiences will enjoy a few shorts followed by a feature film—usually starring the award acceptee of the evening—then proceeded by another film at 10 p.m.

As the dewey mist begins creeping up the hillside, some of these attendees will then hit one of the parties hosted at one of the tony Wailea resorts. And, besides the magnificent settins both here and at a screen tucked into the sandy shoreline, here is where the Maui Film Festival differs from all others: Anyone interested in buying a ticket can attend any of these parties. In true Maui style, there’s no velvet ropes or VIP only lists, the de rigueur at Sundance and Cannes. Rivers has insured that (with the exception of one gathering at Mala) this is a festival for any and all the people.

Past celebrity attendees include: Zooey Deschanel, Dennis Quaid, Pierce Brosnan, Mike Myers, Joan Allen, Clint Eastwood, Zac Efron, Patricia Clarkson, William H. Macy and Felicity Huffman, Luke and Owen Wilson, Claire Danes, Jake Gyllenhaal, William Hurt and many others. Local celebrities include Alice Cooper, Willie Nelson, Laird Hamilton and Woody Harrelson.

This year, top-tier talent includes the lovely Elizabeth Banks (Forty Year Old Virgin, Hunger Games); writer, actor and director Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother, HappyThankYouMorePlease); and James Marsden (Xmen, Straw Dogs). To boot, each year, a handful of notable Hollywood types arrive unannounced. (Eddie Murphy, anyone?)

Just as spectacular as the film viewing on the mountain or the beach, are the glamorous food events. The Taste of Wailea features top dishes from all the pinnacle Maui restaurants as well as wine and beer to match. And the Four Seasons’ Taste of Chocolate gala is a decadent and romantic midnight romp through every conceivable variety of sweet one could imagine.

The silver lining that neatly ties this entire experience together is, as best put by Rivers himself, the films and filmmakers that show here.

“This is a festival with heart,” Rivers can commonly be heard saying, speaking to the “warm fuzzy” that emotes from nearly all the films that play here.

Tickets to most events and all the films can still be purchased at www.MauiFilmFestival.com

“This is a festival with heart,” – Barry Rivers, MFF founder