A Chat With Pierce, Virginia, Quaid and a Few A-Listers

Publisher Brian Berusch Shares Maui Film Festival Red Carpet Moments

A Chat With Pierce, Virginia, Quaid and a Few A-Listers

Last month I found myself seated in a nook under the lobby of the Four Seasons Resort Wailea, shooting the breeze with Pierce Brosnan. The ultra suave Irishman and I were talking about the flora and fruit that he and his wife were cultivating on Kauai, their home isle. He shared how blessed he felt that the islands had "accepted him" and his family, and how special it was to reside here.

"My wife is the gardener, and I like to paint," Brosnan told me. "Kaua'i is a godly place, yet a very simple life. We have good friends, and it's great to get away from the razzmatazz. Really, I just like to look after the family and make movies. Sometimes I look like I'm caught up in it, but I'm not."

With that, we delved in to his upcoming film appearances (Mama Mia, The Thomas Crown Affair 2) and "work related" conversation that circumnavigated thoughts on Hollywood, filmmaking and the Maui Film Festival. Yet what stuck with me long after our conversation that afternoon was the caliber of actor Brosnan—and his fellow Maui Film Festival attendees—are, and how festival founder Barry Rivers is able to attract such quality personalities.

For anyone who attended this year's festival, the answers are easy. This June marked the 9th year the festival has been held on Maui. And, perhaps in the shadow of it's decade marker, Rivers and crew organized a weeklong foray of screenings, panels, discussions, culinary events, cocktail parties and so on that rivaled any year prior. There was the picture-perfect "Celestial Cinema", an outdoor, Dolby-Digital surround-sound experience held up on the Wailea Golf Course, underneath the stars. A new addition, the SandDance Theatre, literally had patrons of the festival watching world wide new releases, Hawaii-made films and shorts with their toes in the sand and the ocean a few paces away. There were screens on top of hotels... the list goes on.

Turning Maui in to "Little Hollywood" for a weekend (complete with pesky paparazzi, who reportedly are permanent Maui residents), appeasing major media outlets, while keeping the locals happy isn't an easy task. Yet somehow Rivers pulled it off in epic fashion. And for that, we wanted to extend a post-festival wrap up, including some of the conversation I had with the attending actors.

Virginia Madsen, who garnered major attention after her role in the cult wine film Sideways, (and whose first role, some might care to know, was Princess Irulan in David Lynch's Dune in 1984), was very candid about her admiration for the event.

"Maui is a festival that is really about the love of film," Madsen shared in an exclusive interview. "It's not a marketplace, it's not about swag, or photo ops. It's really about the art of film making. And the selection is so diverse. There's not a lot of venues for films that are 45 minutes long, or documentaries, or a lot of the independent films. This is their only way to be seen. And the audiences here are so generous."

Madsen, who couldn't rave enough about the addition of the SandDance Theatre, just wrapped her character in the Amelia Earhart biopic due out in 2009. She also took a moment to plug the Grand Wailea Resort, where she had taken her 13 year old son for years.

"Next time I come I'll bring him, and we'll hike the rainforest, ride horseback and maybe go ATV riding. He loves the adventure stuff. I took him to Thailand and Cambodia recently, and he loved it," Madsen added.

Brosnan couldn't help plugging what he found to be the most important aspect of the event as well.

"This is a kick ass festival. It's so sweet, so laid back. It's cultivating really good filmmakers with an environmental slant, and a meaningful take on life."

Brosnan, who we also spotted in the VIP seating area at the Wailea Golf Course's Celestial Cinema, was referring in part to the short, local film about Access Surf, an Oahu non-profit that takes physically and mentally challenged individuals in to the ocean (a story on Access Surf was feature in the last issue of B on Hawaii-I'll assume you read it front to back). During Brosnan's Maverick Award tribute, he again mentioned his environmental work with people like Robert Kennedy Jr. and others who fight for the nation's natural resources.

Dennis Quaid, who's oldie-but-goodie hits included Inner Space and Breaking Away, was also on hand to discuss with me life as a new daddy, as well as his thoughts on the festival.

"Barry and Stella do such a good job here," said Quaid in an exclusive interview. "The vibe here echoes the early days of Sundance."

Quaid will appear this fall in The Express, a film about the first black athlete to win the Heisman Trophy.

Last, I had the opportunity to chat with Felcitiy Huffman, the Desperate Housewife who, upon last appearing on Maui, was merely escorting her husband William H. Macy down the red carpet.

"This year it's all about me," the actor assured me. Huffman is currently shooting The Politician's Wife, an all-too-familiar story about a woman who discovers her politician husband is having an affair.

In summary, allow me to strongly suggest: Make it to the festival next year. The 10th anniversary of the event is sure to wrangle in more than a few top celebrities, in addition to top films. This year's screening of Bottle Shock, an independent film starring Bill Pullman about the controversial "Judgment of Paris" in 1976 (where a California winery took top honors over a dozen French vintners in a blind tasting, hence putting the U.S. on the winemaking map), was all the buzz. Next year, come see for yourself what the hot films—and stars—are all about.

"This is a kick ass festival... It's cultivating really good filmmakers with an environmental slant, and a meaningful take on life," said Brosnan

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