The return of the holiday season means many things to many people. On Maui it means it's time for great movies.
The Maui Film Festival's annual FirstLight series gets an early start next week, with three days and nights of screenings on the biggest, best movie screen in the islands -in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
FirstLight will return in full force during the December holidays, showing most of the movies expected to be in contention for Academy Awards, Golden Globes and other year-end movie prizes.
Naomi Watts and Sean Penn are “Fair Game” in FirstLight’s opening film Wednesday
Summit Entertainment photo
Filmgoers can purchase four-film passes for $40 or single-admission tickets for $12. Voting members of major film industry guilds get free admission.
For more details about tickets, visit the Maui Film Festival website, www.mauifilmfestival.com.
Here is next week's schedule, with synopses provided by the Maui Film Festival:
6 p.m. "Fair Game" PG-13, 1:46.
Academy Award nominee Naomi Watts and Academy Award winner Sean Penn star in "The Bourne Identity" director Doug Liman's thriller inspired by the true events in the lives of ambassador Joseph Wilson and Valerie Plame Wilson. Ms. Wilson was outted as a CIA agent by the Bush Administration when her husband's investigation into Iraq's supposed quest to secure uranium to manufacture weapons of mass destruction did not jive with the Bush/Cheney party line.
8 p.m. "Nowhere Boy" R, 1:30.
There is no more mythologized figure in the history of pop culture than John Lennon unless it's Lennon's teenage idol, Elvis Presley. And there's no better insight into the young John Lennon, who would have been 70 years old this year if still alive. Brilliantly played by British actor Aaron Johnson as Lennon, Kristin Scott Thomas, as his prim but powerful Aunt Mimi and Ann Marie Duff as Lennon's errant mother, Julia, the film pulses with the exciting early sparks of energy and artistry that the world would eventually come to know as the forever incomparable Beatles.
6 p.m. "Waiting for Superman" PG, 1:42
Directed by Davis Guggenheim, the Academy Award-winning director of "An Inconvenient Truth," this documentary is also a high-minded thriller asking, "Can the American education system be cured and be made globally competitive?" Among other things, it weighs the costs and consequences of education in comparison to things like paying for wars.
8 p.m. "127 Hours" R, 2:14.
James Franco stars and Academy Award-winning "Slumdog Millionaire" director Danny Boyle directs this triumphant and true story of mountain climber Aaron Ralston that proves, without a doubt, that there is no force on Earth more powerful than the will to live. Based on Ralston's book "Between a Rock and a Hard Place," the film recreates the remarkable courage Ralston needed to save himself after a fallen boulder traps him in an isolated canyon in Utah.
6 and 9:30 p.m. "The Other Side: Playgravity 2" 52 min.
Many of the planet's top skiers, parachutists, tow-in surfers, speed flyers, kite sailers, extreme snowboarders and Olympians travel to from Alaska to Hawaii, from Spain to Indonesia, and "Are-You-Kidding-Me" to "Holy Bleep!" in this mind-opening and visually stunning exploration of what it takes and how it feels to live lives of unbridled excitement and commitment to the sports they love and the only life they want to live-fully, completely alive! If you were one of those Mauians who got your mind blown by the extreme snowboarding in "PlayGravity One," "The Other Side: PlayGravity 2" is just what the doctor ordered!
7:30 p.m. "Innersection"
Maui Film Festival Beacon Award recipient Taylor Steele delivers another visionary view into water world featuring, among others, Maui's own Matt Meola and Clay Marzo, plus Kelly Slater, John Florence, Joel Parkinson, Mikala Jones and many more of surfing's ascending and transcendent luminaries.