Surrogate Valentine

Where would you least expect a film festival to take place? A beautiful sun drenched volcanic island with perfect beaches and blue skies is an unlikely location to encourage hiding in the dark of a matinee yet Hawaii said aloha to it’s 31st movie showcase.

With the airport landing card surveying those arriving with the first assumption being honeymooners I checked “other” and checked out Surrogate Valentine.

Indie film making and music hold hands in black and white with whiskers of reality stroking the screen as musician Goh Nakauma (a real life artist) has to teach an actor to play a guitar for a friend’s movie . The buddy dynamic is pushed to the limits as the duo bond through circumstance and romantic indecision of the lead.

Shot over fifteen days, the road movie takes in four cities, with the film makers citing Facebook chat as a tool for helping with the writing process. Their interesting model of selling DVDs combined with digital soundtrack downloads after screenings on the circuit helped to deliver money back to help fund the next part of the story.

Running at 75mins the film is funny and to the point leaving you wanting more of the music & future story.

Toronto will get to see the first part of the trilogy as well as local performance by Goh at Reel Asian Film Festival in November.


Even more concise were the shorts programmed from local talent to Oscar contenders packing emotional punches & taps on the funny bone.  Mr Happy Man was a short documentary about a local character who spends his day spreading cheer blowing kisses & telling traffic that he loves them. Making such an impact he’s been immortalised as a statue.

Teamwork flashed back and forth in time as a grandmother is surrounded by her family on her death bed recounting a memory of her granddaughter taking part in a three-legged race needing a final resolution.  Dedication to family was also a topic in Tsuyako as forbidden love and an escape to a new beginning in post WWII Tokyo.

Local film Standing in Watershowed the beauty of the island in juxtaposition to the relationship between brother and sister while Alex Ikeda: The Creation of a song from a film challenge gave us a time line narrative on the path to inspiration.

Mahalo for the movies HIFF!

*Update* Thanks to Toronto International Reel Asian Film Festival we are giving away a pair of tickets to the Toronto Premiere on Sunday November 13th, 3:00pm at The Royal, enter below


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  1. [...] Asian also marked the end of the movie’s eight month festival tour.  After watching it in Hawaii it was good to be reunited for a second time on the screen.  There’s so many little touches [...]