Cinema Paradiso (Maui Film Festival) – Lifestyle & Travel for Physicians

Making waves at the Maui Film Festival

Picture yourself on a driving range on Maui. At night, under the stars. As an astronomer interprets the heavens.

Celestial Cinema at the Maui Film Festival

From your beach chair you can sort of make out Venus, you think. But you could be forgiven for not focusing on the name of the heavenly body, because you’ll soon see a different species of star projected on a 50-foot screen.

Each June, the Maui Film Festival, now in its fourth year, brings a bit of Hollywood to the resort community of Wailea, on the island’s southwest coast; critic Joel Siegel called it “the most beautiful place to watch a movie ever.” We think it’s the world’s only film festival with its own astronomer, and we’re quite sure that it’s the only one to open with a blessing by a Polynesian tribal elder.

Earthbound luminaries at the 2002 festival included Clint Eastwood, Adrien Brody, John Corbett and Rosanna Arquette, who were premiering new movies, reminiscing over past ones and hobnobbing with the rest of us at martini- and seafood-infused receptions and food and wine tastings. Screenings take place at the Celestial Cinema (the one on the golf course — with Dolby sound, naturally) and on the roof of a local hotel, and late at night you can watch silent films on the beach with your toes in the sand.

What’s more, the festival is paced so that you can still take in Maui’s legendary pleasures: driving the Hana Highway, sunrise over the crater at Haleakala, outrigger canoeing, scuba, surfing, and — our wish upon a star for you — snookering.

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