Hawaii for film lovers

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Manawaiopuna Falls on Kauai was made famous in the opening scenes of "Jurassic Park."
Manawaiopuna Falls on Kauai was made famous in the opening scenes of "Jurassic Park."
Hawaii has long served as a choice location for the U.S. film industry. Some locations, like the site of a towering cascade on Kauai now known as Jurassic Falls, reached a new status of recognition and lore after appearing on the silver screen


From 1953's "From Here to Eternity," winner of the Academy Award for best picture, and Elvis Presley's 1963 film "Blue Hawaii," to modern hits like "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Jurassic Park" and the TV show "Lost," the Aloha State has played a role in many blockbusters. Most recently, the movies "Jurassic World," "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle" and "Kong: Skull Island" were all shot on the islands.

There are numerous opportunities to get a taste of the film industry on Hawaii, including film festivals stacked with both under-the-radar and award-winning pictures and movie site tours that go behind the scenes of classic movie moments.

Maui Film Festival: This five-day festival with a range of events including music, hula and celebrity-studded galas, hosts a "Celestial Cinema," screenings under the night sky with roughly 2,000 attendees. Each year the festival in Wailea celebrates a Hollywood star dubbed a "luminary," and past honorees include Michael B. Jordan, Viola Davis, Bryan Cranston, William Hurt, Helen Hunt and Lupita Nyong'O. This year the festival runs June 13-17, and the schedule includes an opening night dinner and cocktail party, a chocolate tasting event, a "Taste of Wailea" culinary party featuring chefs from around the area, and multiple screenings each night.

Hawaii International Film Festival: This festival based on Oahu was founded in 1981 and is a sister event to the Shanghai International Film Festival. Originally started as a project of the East-West Center at University of Hawaii, Manoa, it has traditionally held a focus on Asian and Pacific Rim productions. The first year the festival hosted seven films from six countries for an audience of 5,000, and now screens 150 features, documentaries and shorts and attracts more than 70,000 attendees each year. In addition to domestic works, last year's lineup included films from South Korea, Thailand, France, Japan, Tonga, Australia, Lebanon and China among others. In addition to lesser-known and independent films, the festival features blockbuster screenings and award-nominees including last year's entries, "Call Me By Your Name," "I, Tonya" and "Lady Bird." Complementing the full schedule of films, HIFF also hosts seminars and workshops with Asian, Pacific and North American filmmakers. This year's event is based at the Dole Cannery Stadium 18 Theaters in Honolulu on Oahu and will take place November 8-18.

Kualoa Ranch: On Oahu's eastern shore, this nature preserve has been the site for numerous Hollywood productions, such as "Jurassic Park," "Pearl Harbor," "50 First Dates," "Hawaii Five-O" (old and new), "Magnum P.I." and "Lost." The ranch, in addition to ziplines, ATV rides and catamaran excursions, offers both a regular movie site tour and a premiere movie site tour. The standard 90-minute tour ($45.95 adults, $35.95 children 3-12, and free for kids under 3) takes visitors into Kaaawa Valley, called "Hollywood's Backlot," where more than 50 feature films and television shows have been shot. A vintage school bus takes movie buffs to several sites including a house used in "Mighty Joe Young" and a World War II-style army bunker. The premiere tour ($119.95 adults and $99.95 children 12 and under) covers two and a half hours in an air-conditioned Mercedes Sprinter van, and features the site of Indominus Rex dinosaur pen in "Jurassic Park" and "Godzilla" footprints.

Kauai movie sites

For years cinematographers have flocked to the Garden Isle for its lush, verdant valleys, dramatic cliffs and picturesque waterfalls - the backdrops for "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Six Days, Seven Nights" and "Blue Hawaii."

There are several tour operators that offer excursions stopping at a selection of the most iconic sites. Roberts Hawaii takes visitors on a minibus to more than a half dozen movie sites including Wailua Falls, featured in "Fantasy Island" and "Tropic Thunder," Hanalei Pier, spotted in "South Pacific" and "Acapulco Gold," and Moloaa Beach, where "Gilligan's Island" was filmed. The tour is $110 for adults and $57.50 for children under 12.

Island Helicopters offers a tour to Kauai's Manawaiopuna Falls, made famous in the opening scenes of Jurassic Park and also known as Jurassic Falls. The 80-minute trip costs $275 per person and takes guests on a tour of the island with a landing and short hike at the base of the 400-foot spectacle.

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