KAHULUI - Fresh off its November FirstLight series, the 14th annual FirstLight: Academy Screenings on Maui is under way at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center's Castle Theater.
See new and acclaimed films Thursday through Sunday, Dec. 20-23, on Wednesday, Dec. 26, and from Friday through Sunday, Dec. 28-30.
"Especially noteworthy, and no small thing for Maui residents and island visitors, is that just shy of ten of December's FirstLight films are being presented on Maui. The only other places in the entire nation that they can be seen are in New York City and Los Angeles," said Barry Rivers, co-director of FirstLight.
“Zero Dark Thirty” will be screened at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 20. Jessica Chastain stars in this inside story of the Navy SEAL raid that took the life of Osama bin Laden.
"This makes FirstLight yet again a meaningful stop in the film industry's quest for awards season kudos.
Included in that exclusive list are "Ginger & Rosa," a drama set in the '60s in the midst of the sexual revolution in London, that stars Elle Fanning, Annette Bening, Christina Hendricks and Alessandro Nivola.
Also featured on opening night on Dec. 20 is "Zero Dark Thirty," recent winner of "Best Picture" and "Best Director" awards from the New York Film Critics Association and the National Board of Review.
The film is about the hunt for Osama bin Laden from Academy Award-winning director Kathryn Bigelow ("The Hurt Locker").
Dec. 20 through 23 highlights include Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio in Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained;" Kristen Stewart, Viggo Mortensen and Kirsten Dunst in a drama based on writer Jack Kerouac's "On The Road;" and Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in an inspiring story set against the backdrop of the Christmas Day tsunami in Thailand.
Dec. 26 and Dec. 28-30 highlights include Academy Award winners Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin in a "dramedy" about the fate of three former bank robbers; "Quartet," a warmhearted drama starring Maggie Smith and Billy Connelly, directed by first-timer Dustin Hoffman; Bill Murray and Laura Linney starring in "Hyde Park on Hudson," about the pre-World War II meetings of FDR and the King of England; "Not Fade Away," the story of four New Jersey teenagers who decide to form a rock and roll band after the Beatles and Rolling Stones bring the British invasion to the U.S., from director David Chase of "The Sopranos;" and "The Impossible," an exploration of the impact on the never-ending quest for energy, starring Matt Damon, John Krasinski and Frances McDormand.
This December's FirstLight also features an unusual number of special encores of films released prior to the start of the event.
They include "Lincoln" from director Steven Spielberg; the Sundance Audience Award-winning "The Sessions" starring Helen Hunt, John Hawkes and William H. Macy; "Argo," directed by and starring Ben Affleck; Director Robert Zemeckis' "Flight" starring Denzel Washington; and a special surprise screening to be announced soon.
Tickets are $10 per film for those using a FirstLight VIP FastPass or $12 for single tickets. FirstLight FastPasses are available at Whole Foods in Kahului; both FastPasses and single tickets can be purchased at the MACC.
FastPasses and single tickets are also available online at www.MauiArts.org. Call (808) 242-2787 for details.
As always, screenings are complimentary to members of most major film industry guilds.
The festival's website at www.MauiFilmFestival.com provides complete details.