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Hawaii born and raised, a graduate of McKinley High School and the Univeristy of Hawaii at Manoa, Brent Anbe decided early that he wanted to work in the film industry. He started volunteering with the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival in 2000 when he was still on college, got a job working as a production assistant working on local commercials and then worked in the Hawaii Film Office. While he was at the film office, Anbe made a film of his own. The connections he made resulted in an invitation to be a casting assistant for ABC and lead to his job as a casting associate on the successful reboots of “Hawaii Five-0” and “Magnum P.I.”
Anbe became the director of the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival in 2010.
This year, with the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down public gatherings, Anbe, 40, is presenting the 31st Annual Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival as a virtual event with more than 20 films available for viewing at no charge through Aug. 12. For information, visit hglcf.org.
What are the biggest challenges in doing a virtual festival?
It’s a test. We’ve never done this before, but we’re excited about it because it’s actually giving our short-film makers the full platform of a full festival. This is (also) the first time that we’ve even been able to show the films for free, and we’re hoping that this will increase our audience or broaden our audience. A really important film that we’re highlighting with the support of the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities is a film called “Kama‘aina” that was shot at Pu‘uhonua o Wai‘anae. The filmmaker’s name is Kimi Howl Lee.
Do you recommend watching the films in any particular order?
Watch the Hawaii shorts first ‘cause they were shot and made with aloha here in the islands. One that’s really good, and I really love besides “Kama‘aina,” is “Parental Guidance Suggested” by Dane Nevis. It has interviews with various people within our LGBT community talking about their journey. You’ll see a lot of familiar faces in it, and it’s really well produced.
I’m adding your movie — “Ajumma! Are You Krazy???” — to the list. What inspired you to make a comedy about three 40-something local women who are fanatic fans of a 20-something Korean star?
When I was working at the state film office, I was surrounded by secretaries (who were fans). It was like they were talking about the Beatles or Elvis — all these “Boomers” — and they were talking about people that were younger than me. With no shame involved, which I love! They were proud, they had their own fan club and I went to meetings (with them). I was surrounded by material (for the movie).
I give it the traditional two thumbs up. Is it commercially available?
The best way to get it is to contact me on social media (Instagram: @celebrenty; Twitter: @BrentAnbe; or facebook.com/brent.anbe). (The DVD is) full of extras — bloopers, the casting process and how we ended up with who we ended up with, and extra scenes that we didn’t get to include.
What’s next for you?
Hopefully we’ll be starting up with “Magnum.” We’ve been on kind of hold, and rightfully so because we don’t want to start prematurely. And I want to continue to support the community. I like to be a connector, so any resources that I may have that might help a deserving individual, I’m all about trying to be a connector.
What would you like to be doing — or to have done — in 2025?
I’d like to be married. I proposed at last year’s red carpet event. We make 20 years next year, and we were supposed to planning our wedding for next year, but with COVID I’ve been doing what I can outside of setting a date and a venue.