Year-end film awards are being announced by critics' associations and boards from New York to Los Angeles. You'll find most of the contenders on the schedule of FirstLight, Maui Film Festival's Academy screenings continuing through the end of the year in Castle Theater at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center.
Earlier this week, festival director Barry Rivers revised the previously announced Monday program to screen "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" at 2 p.m., "The Help" at 5 p.m. and Steven Spielberg's "War Horse" at 7:30 p.m.
Originally conceived 13 years ago to screen potential Oscar contenders for industry professionals spending the holidays on Maui, FirstLight has gone on to establish itself as a world-class film series which has a perfect record of screening all the subsequent best-picture Oscar winners before they were even announced.
Steven Spielberg’s “War Horse” is a late addition to the FirstLight lineup.
Dreamworks SKG photo
Tickets are $12, or $10 with a four-show $40 FastPass, available at the MACC box office. The following synopses were provided by the Maui Film Festival.
Friday, Dec. 16
2 p.m. - "Hell and Back Again" NR, 1:28
Insightful and important, this powerful doc follows a wounded 25-year-old Marine sergeant returning to small-town America from Afghanistan.
4 p.m. - "Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey" NR, 1:22
Meet Kevin Clash, the unlikely man - and the heart and soul - behind one of the most beloved characters in the world - the Muppet Elmo.
6 p.m. - "My Reincarnation" NR, 1:22
An epic story of an exiled Tibetan Buddhist master and his Italian-born son's ambivalence about his own destiny as a reincarnated Tibetan lama.
8 p.m. - "Bob Marley: The Birth of a Legend" NR, 1:30
The "long lost tapes," raved Reg gae.com, that definitively capture the rise of Bob Marley and the Wailers to international fame and stardom.
Saturday, Dec. 17
1 p.m. - "Kung Fu Panda 2" PG, 1:31, free for kids 12 and younger
Jack Black, Angelina Jolie, Dustin Hoffman, Seth Rogen, Lucy Liu and Jackie Chan provide the voice talent for this joyous animated feature.
3 p.m. - "Declaration of War" NR, 1:40, in French with English subtitles
France's Academy Award submission is an exuberant, dazzling and deeply moving film about a newborn child's impact on his loving parents.
5 p.m. - "Amigo" R, 2:04, in English and Filipino, Chinese and Spanish, all with English subtitles.
A powerful drama of friendship, betrayal and romance set against the Philippine-American war. Jose Torre stars. Indie icon John Sayles directs.
7:30 p.m. - "Blackthorn" R, 1:38
Sam Shepard stars as Butch Cassidy, of Sundance Kid fame, living in exile in the stunning wilds of Bolivia, and pining for one last sight of home.
Sunday, Dec. 18
1 p.m. - "Puss in Boots" PG, 1:30, free for kids 12 and younger
Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton and Amy Sedaris lend their voices to this charming, swashbuckling cat tale.
3 p.m. - "A Better Life" PG-13, 1:38
The dramatic, eternal story of a father wanting a better life for his son than his own. Set in contemporary East L.A. One of 2011's genuine gems.
5 p.m. - "The Artist" PG-13, 1:40
A silver-screen icon of silent movies' heyday is falling, while that of the ingenue he loves rises, in this Cannes Film Festival award-winner.
7:30 p.m. - "The Music Never Stopped" PG-13, 1:45
A perfect holiday heartwarmer, based on Oliver Sachs' novel "The Last Hippie." Soundtrack by the Grateful Dead, Dylan, Beatles, Stones & CSNY.
Monday, Dec. 19
2 p.m. - "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" PG-13, 2:16
Johnny Depp, returns as Captain Jack Sparrow, in this action-packed adventure that co-stars Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane and Geoffrey Rush.
5 p.m. - "The Help" PG-13, 2:17
Bravura performances by Viola Davis, Bryce Dallas Howard, Octavia Spencer, Emma Stone and Jessica Chastain drive this revelatory and hopeful drama.
7:30 p.m. - "War Horse" PG-13, 2:22
Steven Spielberg's epic adventure is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set against the sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the World War I.
Tuesday, Dec. 20
2 p.m. - "Rebirth" NR, 1:44
The uplifting story of five lives changed by 9/11. "Awesome. A work of art and the heart, it is really and truly inspiring" (Hollywood Reporter).
4 p.m. - "If a Tree Falls" NR, 1:38
"A Story of the Earth Liberation Front" is the subtitle of this informative doc on the incendiary tactics to chosen by the E.L.F. to protect the planet.
6 p.m. - "Revenge of the Electric Car" PG-13, 1:30
The director of "Who Killed the Electric Car?" explores its resurrection at GM, Nissan and Tesla. "Riveting highly entertaining" raved Vanity Fair.
8 p.m. - "The Other F Word" NR, 1:48
Older and wiser, iconic punk rockers from Blink 182, Red Hot Chilli Peppers and Rise Against, dish their hilarious, eye-opening take on fatherhood.
Wednesday, Dec. 21
2 p.m. - "J. Edgar" R, 2:16
J. Edgar Hoover's secret life imagined. Clint Eastwood directs. Leonardo DiCaprio stars. Naomi Watts, Judi Dench and Armie Hammer co-star.
5 p.m. - "Coriolanus" NR, 2:02
Shakespeare's politically charged drama. Director Ralph Fiennes, Gerard Butler, Vanessa Redgrave, Brian Cox and Jessica Chastain co-star.
7:30 p.m. - "Shame" NC-17, 1:39
Michael Fassbender (Best Actor Venice Film Fest) stars in a tale of sexual addiction compared to "Last Tango in Paris." Carey Mulligan co-stars.