New American Perspectives: Spotlight on Foreign-Born Filmmakers at HIFF

The Vilcek Foundation presents the New American Perspectives program at the 42nd Annual Hawai'i International Film Festival. The program celebrates foreign-born filmmakers' contributions to cinema in the United States.

Celebrating Immigrant Contributions in Cinema

The Vilcek Foundation will present the New American Perspectives program at the 42nd Annual Hawai'i International Film Festival (HIFF) in Honolulu this November. Comprising film screenings, filmmaker discussions and panels, a master class, and classroom presentations by filmmakers, the program centers the contributions of immigrant and foreign-born filmmakers to contemporary cinema in the United States. 

New American Perspectives is underwritten by a grant from the Vilcek Foundation to bring foreign-born filmmakers and their work to the festival. At the 2022 Festival this November, the Vilcek Foundation is thrilled to present exclusive events and screenings with Deborah Chow (b. Canada), Laurent Barthelemy (b. France), Ellie Foumbi (b. Cameroon), Nardeep Khurmi (b. Switzerland), and Rena Owen (b. New Zealand). The Vilcek Foundation has partnered with HIFF on the presentation of work by immigrant and foreign-born filmmakers since '2007'. 

"Foreign-born artists have shaped film for more than a century, and have been the leading force behind some of cinema's most indelible works," says Vilcek Foundation President Rick Kinsel. "Since 1980, the Hawai'i International Film Festival has served as an important platform for foreign-born, indigenous, and underrepresented filmmakers. HIFF's mission resonates closely with that of the Vilcek Foundation, and this mission alignment led us to work with HIFF to develop New American Perspectives. We are delighted to present the program at the 42nd Annual Hawai'i International Film Festival, and to celebrate the work of these five outstanding filmmakers."

A highlight of the New American Perspectives program is the New American Perspectives panel discussion, which is free and open to the public. Presented on Saturday, Nov. 12, at the Consolidated Kahala Theatre in Honolulu, Hawai'i, the panel will focus on the filmmakers' craft, and on their individual experiences as foreign-born filmmakers living and working in the United States. 

In the coming weeks, the Vilcek Foundation will produce individual profiles on each of the filmmakers and their work on the foundation's website and for the Hawai'i International Film Festival blog.

"With New American Perspectives we honor the contributions of foreign-born artists to the arts, culture, and society in the United States," says Liz Boylan, communications manager for the Vilcek Foundation. "It is particularly meaningful to share this program in Hawai'i, a territory and state that has been profoundly shaped by migration, immigration, and layered cultural histories."

As part of the 2022 program, HIFF will present screenings of the following films, including Q&A sessions with filmmakers and introductions led by the Vilcek Foundation. A full schedule of programs and events for the Hawai'i International Film Festival—including the New American Perspectives program—are available at

New American Perspectives Film Programs
The Hawai'i International Film Festival

  • "Obi-Wan Kenobi"
    Presented with director Deborah Chow

    As a special presentation featuring the work of Deborah Chow, HIFF and the Vilcek Foundation present a screening of the Disney+ series, "Obi-Wan Kenobi."

    A filmmaker of Chinese Australian descent, Chow has directed extensively in film and television, She has directed dozens of groundbreaking television programs and limited series over the past two decades, with credits including "Mr. Robot," "Better Call Saul," "American Gods," Reign," and "Jessica Jones." She won an NAACP Image Award for her work on "Better Call Saul," and was recently honored with a DGC Visionary award.

  • Finding Satoshi
    Presented with writer and director Laurent Barthelemy

    In 2005, a British company developed an alternate reality game (ARG) called Perplex City. ARGs are played in the real world and use different mediums to deliver a fictional story to players. Players had to solve 256 puzzles to win. The game ended officially in 2007. However, one card remained unsolved: a picture, a name, and "Find me!" written in Japanese. A group, led by Laura Hall, never gave up. Finding Satoshi tells the compelling story of the longest global hide-and-seek puzzle game ever created.

  • Our Father, The Devil
    Presented with writer and director Ellie Foumbi

    Our Father, The Devil is a riveting psychological thriller from screenwriter and director Ellie Foumbi that follows Marie (Babetida Sadjo), an African refugee who has found a pleasant life for herself in a small mountain town nestled in southern France. Her idyllic yet humble existence is thrown into turmoil, however, when a charismatic priest (Souleymane Sy Savané) comes to town—a man she recognizes from the horrors of her past.

  • Land of Gold
    Presented with writer, director, actor, and producer Nardeep Khurmi

    When truck driver Kiran hears pounding on a shipping container and finds a young Mexican American girl inside, his life takes a drastic turn as he seeks to reunite her with her family. Over the arduous journey, the pair evade the police while feuding and bonding over music, paint swatches, and what it means to be seen as "other" in white America. Winner of the 2021 AT&T Untold Stories award, Land of Gold is bursting with heart, conviction, and power, becoming something much greater than the sum of its parts.

  • Whina
    Presented with actor and associate producer Rena Owen

    Whina is the story of Dame Whina Cooper, the revered Māori matriarch who worked tirelessly to preserve the rights, standing, and heritage of indigenous communities in New Zealand, with a particular focus on supporting the rights of indigenous women. Whina tells the story of a woman formed by tradition, compelled by innovation, and guided by an instinct for equality and justice—whose legacy as the Te Whaea o te Motu (Māori: Mother of the Nation) was an inspiration to an entire country.


The Hawai'i International Film Festival (HIFF)

As the vanguard forum of international cinematic achievement in the Asia-Pacific region, the Hawai'i International Film Festival (HIFF) endeavors to recognize new and emerging talent, promote career development and original collaborations through innovative education programs and facilitate dynamic cultural exchange through the cinema arts.

The Hawai'i International Film Festival is a federally tax-exempt nonprofit organization under IRS Section 501(c)(3). To learn more, please visit

The Vilcek Foundation

The Vilcek Foundation raises awareness of immigrant contributions in the United States and fosters appreciation for the arts and sciences. The foundation was established in 2000 by Jan and Marica Vilcek, immigrants from the former Czechoslovakia. The mission of the foundation was inspired by the couple's respective careers in biomedical science and art history. Since 2000, the foundation has awarded over $7 million in prizes to foreign-born individuals and has supported organizations with over $5.8 million in grants.

The Vilcek Foundation is a private operating foundation, a federally tax-exempt nonprofit organization under IRS Section 501(c)(3). To learn more, please visit

Source: The Vilcek Foundation

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