This year’s award winners were:
Audience Award – Dramatic Feature: (500) Days of Summer
Audience Award – Best Director: Marc Webb (500) Days of Summer
2009 Maui Film Festival Nova Award honoree, Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in this post-modern love story that is never what we expect it to be. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn’t. Its twisted journey of highs and lows doesn’t quite go where we think it will, it takes us where we want any good, even-not-quite-love story to end, leaving us satisfied, enlightened and believing in the ultimate power of love.
Audience Award – Comedy Feature: Paper Heart
Combining elements of documentary and traditional storytelling, reality and fantasy, this film brings a fresh perspective to the modern romance, redefining the classic love story as director Charlyne Yi, who claims not to believe in love, or at the very least, fairy-tale love, or the Hollywood mythology of love, meets a boy, Juno’s Michael Cera, after her own heart.
Audience Award – Feature Documentary: The Cove
The amazing true story of filmmaker Louie Psihoyos, dolphin trainer Richard O’Barry, and an elite team of activists, filmmakers and freedivers who embarked on a covert mission to penetrate a hidden cove in Japan, shining light on a dark and deadly secret. The mysteries they uncovered were only the tip of the iceberg.
Audience Award – Family Friendly Feature: More Than a Game
Led by future NBA superstar and 2009 Most Valuable Player, LeBron James, and a charismatic yet inexperienced player’s father, five talented young basketball players form Akron, OH star in this remarkable true-life coming-of-age story about friendship and loyalty, which leads them from a decrepit inner-city gym to the doorstep of a national high school championship. This is far more than an inspirational and exciting sports film. It is a spiritual experience, which is also major league heartfelt filmmaking.
Audience Award – Documentary Vision: Rock Prophecies
Rock Prophecies: Honolulu-born photographer Robert Knight takes us right into the presence – actual footage! – of the planet’s most iconic guitar heroes, including Carlos Santana, Jeff Beck, Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, BB King, Eric Clapton, Slash and, among many others, phenom blues guitarist Tyler Dow Bryant.
Audience Award –‘Green’ Documentary Feature: Dirt! The Movie
We survive on the fertile power of fresh water and dirt. All other measurements of wealth are illusions. It is a living, breathing skin that thinly coats the most hospitable parts of planet Earth, and it teems with life. There are tens of billions of microorganisms in a single handful of the stuff. In the biblical book Genesis, God grabs a handful of dirt and breathes life into it. The result is a man called Adam whose name means dirt or clay. No matter what your religion might be, this particular poetic image is universally valid.
.Audience Award – Spirit in Cinema Documentary Feature: Saint Misbehavin’ The Wavy Gravy Movie
Beat poet, Merry Prankster, friend of Bob Dylan, opening act for Coltrane and Monk, member of the Hog Farm Commune and much more, Wavy Gravy, who started life as Hugh Romney, is an activist and artist extraordinaire. That said, don’t imagine that this film is just a flashback for old hippies. Wavy Gravy is more relevant than ever – a courageous survivor who has given his life to the cause of joy and laughter, sanity and love. He is truly a genius and, yes, a saint.
Audience Award – ‘ChangeMaker’ Documentary Feature: Cash Crop
Marijuana is the number one cash crop in 12 of the United States, and is among the top three cash crops of 30 states. The “industry” is worth about $35 billion a year. California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently suggested considering marijuana growing as a legalized farming activity to potentially raise more than a billion dollars in annual tax revenue for the state. Cash Crop is an even-handed excursion into the so-called Emerald Triangle of Northern California.
Audience Award – Ensemble Cast: Splinterheads
When an irreverent comedy starts out with its 20-something lead character falling head over heels in lust with a beautiful carnie con artist immediately after attending a family gathering where a call from the Guinness Book of World Records informed them that his 116-year-old grandfather (who shortly thereafter becomes a side show attraction at the very same carnival) had just become “the newest oldest world’s man” – you know it’s time to butter the popcorn and settle in for a ride to remember!
Audience Award – World Cinema Drama: Departures
Academy Award Winner for Best Foreign Language Film, Departures is a delightful journey into the heartland of Japan, as well an astonishingly beautiful look at a sacred part of Japan’s cultural heritage. This is a story of love, of discovery, of revelation and of the transcending human spirit that will linger in your heart and mind long after viewing.
Audience Award – World Cinema Documentary: One Peace at a Time
“There’s nothing magical about change. It’s about getting up off your ass.” Director Turk Pipkin literally travels the Earth to look at the worst problems, and he asks the same question every time: What can be done to fix it? This is a film about solutions, not hopeless dead ends, which includes Maverick Award recipient Willie Nelson making a delightful appearance, riding up on a horse, playing a sizzling chess game, and telling one of the best jokes you will have heard in a long time.
Audience Award – “Fo’ Real” Documentary : Hawai’i: A Voice of Sovereignty
Audience Award – World Cinema Animation: My Date from Hell
Audience Award – Documentary Short: Rwanda Gorilla Special
Audience Award – Comedy Short: Spleenectomy
Audience Award – World Cinema Short: Mustang: A Journey of Transformation