The 27th Louis Vuitton Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) kicked off its 11-day programme with Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Flight Of The Red Balloon on Oct 18.

The festival will present more than 150 films from around the world, including Julian Schnabel's Diving Bell And The Butterfly from this year's Cannes, the international premiere of Kwak Kyung-taek's A Love in the Narrative Feature Competition, and the world premiere of Beautiful Son by Hawaii filmmakers Don and Julianne King in the Documentary Feature Competition.

The programme includes sidebars on Korean documentaries, a section entitled Eat, Drink, Film - which included a tea-tasting with the screening of All In This Tea over the weekend - and a spotlight on American Immigrant Filmmakers such as Wayne Wang with his A Thousand Years of Good Prayers and Stephane Gauger with his Vietnam-US Owl And The Sparrow.

Joan Chen will receive this year's Achievement in Acting Award at the screening of Home Song Stories, directed by Tony Ayres.

The festival is also to award Korean actor Lee Jun-ki (King And The Clown) with the 'Rising Star' award. Lee's latest film May 18, directed by Kim Ji-hoon, made its US premiere here on Saturday. Excited Korean Wave fans tracked Lee's movements in Honolulu, while planning to camp out before the arrival of compatriot star Ju Jin-mo (200 Pounds Beauty) who stars in A Love.

At the premiere of the film, director Kwak is to receive the fest's first ever Achievement in Directing Award for films like Friend, Mutt Boy and Typhoon.

Also on Saturday, Hong Kong-based heart-throb Daniel Wu presented Alexi Tan's Blood Brothers, which he stars in. Also a singer with his own band, Wu made a directorial debut with The Heavenly Kings, about the rise of a boy band, which is screening later this week.

HIFF is also holding symposiums including one on Hawaii's 15-20% film tax credit incentives and Vietnamese cinema - the latter accompanying the launch of Modernity and Nationality in Vietnamese Cinema by Ngo Phuong Lan, a unique example of a Vietnamese film book to be translated and published in English.

The fest has started out with a few print, shuttle and hospitality-related issues, but perennially magnanimous festival director Chuck Boller and staff are powering along to lessen the impact on festival-goers.