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Awestruck & captured in wonder

"Your two animations are chosen to be in the Hawaii International Film Festival!", were the words that started it off. I remember it clearly, I was at the Bishop Museum celebrating 25 years of Pacific Islanders in Communications, when Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking Executive Director, Vera Zambonelli gleams with those words & twinkling eyes full of pride.

I stood there stunned & unaware that Hawaii had a Film Fest. I heard of the Cannes Film Festival or Sundance Film Festival, but I never knew a film festival carried Hawaii's own name. It became a dream come true, much like the title of my animation, "Dream Come True", where the main character is transported into her dream from reality. It's been an odyssey of Celebration, Film Conference, Wāhine Film-Mixer, HIFF Meet the Directors, then the Students Showcase screening at Dole Cannery. It was an honor to be surrounded by actual film makers and other professionals in the industry. In one word it was incogitable of what would transpire from 2 weeks at Reel Camp 2016.

My parent took this opportunity to continue teaching me the art of lei making. She would take me to pick flowers and make some kind of lei whether it was strung with string, braided, or wili (twisted) with rafia during this momentous and serendipitous occasion. Mother was proud of me for working through the process during Summer Reel Camp for Girls 2016. Neither one of us could have imagined anything more than the HWF screening on family night when my work was revealed, since it was a mystery during the week. My mom is proud of me for trying my best which is all she asks of me. Anything more than completion, is an added blessing.

When I saw the mixture of colors I created strike the big screen, I felt I became an accomplished director. In that moment, I felt my dreams of becoming a real director were closer than ever. It was as though I could touch the stars.

I dream of becoming a film director. Having my films grace the big screen is part of that dream. Being acknowledged in HIFF and seeing my animations at the movies is a glimpse of the career I have in my mind. I figure if I have a goal, then I should go for the greatest accolade. I would love to win an oscar for directing or to be nominated for an Academy Award. However, this experience does not determine whether I make more films or not. Two of my favorite directors never won Oscars for directing, they were only Academy Award Nominees. Yet, I still love watching Cecil B. De Mille and Franco Zeffirelli films!

I am inspired to continue learning to become a director. I will need to take more classes like Basic Reel/ Advanced Reel Camp to gain experience. I will keep believing that ideas will come to me and keep my mind open to receiving knowledge. Hopefully one day many people will enjoy the films I direct. For now, I have a lot to learn and experience. I am truly grateful to have had the experience of my animations being chosen by HIFF. I look forward to great possibilities in the world of filmmaking.

Awestruck & Captured in Wonder,

Phoenix Maimiti Valentine

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