ACM student wins award at Shanghai International Film Festival

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Anne Misawa, (808) 956-7736
Professor, Academy for Creative Media
Posted: Jul 17, 2012

ACM student Erin Lau with her 2012 SIFF award
ACM student Erin Lau with her 2012 SIFF award
UH Mānoa’s Academy for Creative Media (ACM) student Erin Lau earned top honors at the 2012 Shanghai International Film Festival for the Best Documentary in the Sino-U.S. Student Shorts Program. Lau and fellow ACM students Allison Le, Holly Larson, Vincent Desrosiers-Nault, Kristin Kouke and Jeffrey Leong recently returned from the bi-annual Student Media Art (SMART) Exchange between UHM’s ACM and Shanghai University’s School of Film and TV department.
Each October and June, students from both schools submit short films to the SIFF (June) and HIFF (October). Six films are selected each summer and fall and the filmmakers are invited to participate as official film festival delegates. They also take part in a three-week, hands-on film workshop as part of the SMART Exchange Program. 
Two films, “Fine Kine Dining,” directed by Richard Dang (UHM), and “Everyday,” directed by Xin Lin (SU), screened at June’s SIFF. Both were produced in the 50th State by students from Shanghai University and UH Mānoa in October 2011.
“For as long as I’ve been a student of the Academy for Creative Media, the SMART Exchange program has been regarded as an invaluable opportunity for any student filmmaker,” said senior Kristin Kouke. “Given the challenge of collaborating on three short films and overcoming the obstacles of time and language, this trip has provided me with a new, real-world perspective on the collaborative nature of filmmaking. For this exciting journey, we were not students traveling abroad, but rather, filmmakers traveling abroad, eager to tell the stories of the vibrant and cinematic city of Shanghai.”
As part of the SMART Exchange program’s filmmaker’s workshop, students from both universities shot this summer’s collaborative works comprised of three short films that will be strung together as a longer omnibus film. Students worked under the guidance of SMART Exchange Founding Director and ACM Professor Anne Misawa (UHM), SMART Exchange Workshop Coordinator Keahi Chun (UHM) and Professors Liu Haibo and Wangli Huang from Shanghai University.
The ACM film projects that screened at this summer’s SIFF include:
1)      “Mama Le”
Director: Allison Le
Film Synopsis--A doting mother has recently suffered a stroke and finds herself facing new and frustrating challenges that prevent her from living the life she once lived. For instance, she is unable to cook her children’s favorite meals as a means of showing love, and she finds herself in an uncomfortable situation when they are the ones who must dote on her now. 
2)      “Rhythms”
Director: Holly Larson     
Film Synopsis--Carl (Matthew Hirokane), a lonely young man, seeks to find a friend in a world where no one seems to understand him. His unique condition causes him to hear music in almost everything, from the sound of footsteps to the rustling of leaves. When he hears this music, he can’t help but dance. This spontaneous dancing disgusts the people around him who don’t hear the music like he does, especially Tessa Lee (Joy Masuda) and the other popular kids. By chance, he stumbles upon Tessa one day, dancing to her own music, just like him. Although she’s clearly hiding behind her reputation, careful to not let anyone know, Carl cannot help his dancing, nor does he want to. He then goes on a journey, struggling to find a friend in Tessa, if she can get past her shame, where they can be their true selves together. 
3)      “Ka Pua”
Director: Erin Lau
Film Synopsis--Aia no ka pua i luna. The flower is still on the tree. An ‘ōlelo no’eau that gives compliment to an elderly lady, for despite her age, she still retains her beauty. “Ka Pua” glances into the life of Elizabeth Lau as her beauty is reflected through her sense of family and aloha. She shares stories about her handicapped granddaughter, husband and belief in love without boundaries.
4)      “Boy A Gogo”
Director: Vincent Desrosiers-Nault
Film Synopsis--Black Dynamite is a gogo dancer exploring his thoughts about his occupation and fears.
5)      “The Final Act”
Director: Dallas Moffis
Film Synopsis--Set in the 1920’s. Francis (Volz), a world-famous magician, sets the stage for his final performance after his lover and longtime assistant (Weismantel) abruptly and unexpectedly announces her retirement. With the final act of the night looming and his assistant in attendance, the mystery of Francis’ final trick only becomes more unclear and unsettling.
6)      “Fine Kine Dining”
Director: Richard Dang
Film Synopsis--Jed, a young heartbroken musician, tries to restart his life by working at a restaurant. He finds out that he not only has to start at the very bottom, but also has to deal with Mai, a disgruntled longtime employee who antagonizes any new hire. Jed must find a way to fit in to renew his passion for life and music.
The SMART program was founded by Misawa in 2006 and has given nearly 80 students an unprecedented opportunity to travel to Hawaii and China. More than 120 others have participated in the Filmmaker’s Workshops. All of the film collaborations from the SMART Exchange program have premiered in film festivals worldwide.