August at Akiko's is a mystical film that lives in the seams between dream, reality, and memory with a time-signature all its own. Armed with just his suitcase and a sax, cosmopolitan musician Alex Zhang Hungtai (Dirty Beaches, Last Lizard) returns home to the Big Island of Hawai‘i having been away for nearly a decade. Amidst possessed sax solos and brooding strolls, Alex stumbles upon a Buddhist bed & breakfast run by a woman named Akiko (Akiko Masuda). Hungtai’s wild sax and Akiko’s Buddhist bells form the base for a rich soundtrack that wraps around the audience like a sonic web surrounding the unexpected new friendship.
Though Yogi took a very visceral and intuitive approach to the production of August at Akiko’s, the film is deeply informed by his sustained meditations on cinema as cultural memory and the Hollywood erasure of the local Hawaiian voice. However, as an intervention into cinematic experience, August at Akiko’s does not set itself in opposition, but rather sets itself apart. There is a quest for healing love, a quest to make sense of losses and transitions, big and small, manmade and earth-made, that courses through the film. August at Akiko’s offers up not just a visual product but a porous skin through which we may, if we allow ourselves to, get a tingly feeling as we experience the expansive flow of Big Island time.
synopsis by Keisha Knight
“Transcendently inventive” - Highlights from the 2018 Maryland Film Festival by Richard Brody
“A soul-deep love letter to a state that Hollywood tends to more glibly romanticize”- Film Review: August at Akiko's by GUY LODGE
“Simultaneously blissful and joyous, becalmed yet full of life, August At Akiko’s channels a “slow-cinema” aesthetic into a pointedly Hawai’ian locale” - Made Visible: The 2018 Hawai’i International Film Festival” BY JASON SANDERS
The film stage
“Zhang Hungtai offers a gorgeously understated performance…as magnetic when the man is at his saxophone as it is when he quietly meanders in and out of dreamlike visions that echo an Apichatpong Weerasethakul-esque magical realism.” - REVIEW: August at Akiko’s is a whimsical hawaii-set tale of belonging
Alex zhang hungtai
Alex Zhang Hungtai, formerly known by his stage name Dirty Beaches, now Last Lizard, is a Taiwanese-born musician who spent his formative years in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. As Dirty Beaches, Alex released a number of albums, including Badlands, which was subsequently nominated as a long-list nominee for the 2011 Polaris Music Prize. Alex has also recorded several original film soundtracks, such as for the documentary “Water Park” and “Who Is Arthur Chu?” In 2017, he was featured in the Showtime series Twin Peaks: The Return and Yo! My Saint!, a short film directed by Ana Lily Amirpour and produced by Kenzo.
Akiko Masuda is a 3rd generation Japanese woman, born in Honolulu in the 40’s, long before freeways, shopping malls, email, and cell phones. Akiko is a writer of children's books, student of tai chi, and zen meditation, and makes some "mean" French toast. She is storyteller, hostess, housekeeper, and loves using her weed whacker and leaf blower to maintain the garden, citrus orchard and breadfruit grove in the backyard. She is also president of the WAILEA VILLAGE HISTORIC PRESERVATION COMMUNITY. Akiko has been living in Wailea Village since' 91, the first person to buy in this quiet, peaceful country village in 35 years. Wailea is a wee, still-intact, plantation village, with about 12 households which have seen very little change, a fleeting flashback in time.
C. Makoto Yogi
Christopher Makoto Yogi was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. He is a Sundance Institute/Time Warner Fellow and a Sundance Screenwriters and Directors Lab Fellow. Yogi’s most recent film, the short experimental documentary “Occasionally, I Saw Glimpses of Hawai‘i” is currently screening on the festival circuit. His short film, "Obake" (Ghosts), screened worldwide with screenings at the Palm Springs International ShortsFest, Raindance Film Festival, the Hawai‘i International Film Festival, and numerous other festivals. His 2009 film, "Layover, on the Shore” was awarded Best Hawaiian Short at the Big Island Film Festival. Yogi also has extensive experience editing documentaries for film and television. His work has been nominated for an Emmy, a GLAAD award, and has been awarded a Student Academy Award. He is a graduate of the USC School of Cinematic Arts MFA program, participated in IFP Film Week, and is a Jerome grant recipient.
Sarah S. kim
Sarah S. Kim was born in Busan, South Korea, and currently lives in New York. She has produced The Other Side of the Mountain, a US-DPRK co-production period shot in North Korea. Previously, she worked as a screener in the programming committee for AFI (American Film Institute) Fest, the Sundance NHK award and Sundance Documentary Fund, and worked as program coordinator for the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. She received her BA at UCLA School of Theater, Film & TV for production and MFA from the City College of New York, where she studied under Chantal Akerman. She's a recipient of multiple Motion Pictures of America Association Awards, Peter Stark Memorial Award, Visual Communications’ Armed With a Camera Fellowship, and the New York Women in Film & Television scholarship award.