Film Noho Hewa on Kauai

SOURCE: Ray Catania,
SUBHEAD: Free Documentary shown Sunday Dec 6th at Kapaa Neighborhood Center at 4pm.

Image above: Detail of movie poster for Noho Hewa.  

Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawaii A Free documentary about the militarization of Hawaii, desecration and forced removal of Hawaiian people, by Keala Kelly. Light refreshments will be served.  

WHERE: Kapaa Neighborhood Center Auditorium  

Sunday, December 6th 2009 from 4 to 7 pm  

Sponsored by Mana Oha.
For more information, call Ben Nihi at 634-0469.

The film received the Hawaii International Film Festival's highest award in the documentary film category, the Halekulani Golden Orchid award for Best Documentary. Noho Hewa connects the military occupation of Hawaii to the fraudulence of statehood, the Akaka Bill, homelessness, desecration and more. Featured interviews: Haunani-Kay Trask, Kaleikoa Kaeo, Noenoe Silva, Keanu Sai, J Kehaulani, Kauanui and others. For more information about the film, go to the Noho Hewa website,

Noho Hewa film review from Big Island Weekly
Ethnic cleansing isn't just something that they do physically to people, it's something that happens in the mind." This was said by Haunani-Kay Trask in an onscreen interview in the documentary "Noho Hewa." Haunani goes on to say that ethnic cleansing establishes within a people's mind-set that "You have no place to live. You do not have a home, so you do not exist." This manao (thought) is what Anne Keala Kelly is trying to capture in her first feature length documentary, "Noho Hewa."

Jan. 17 marked the 116th anniversary of the overthrow and continued occupation of the Kingdom of Hawai'i. "Noho Hewa: The Wrongful Occupation of Hawaii" inspires and educates its audience on the struggles facing modern Hawaiians. It was presented in its unfinished version at the University of Hawaii at Hilo Performing Arts Center on Jan. 17 as part of the University of Hawaii at Hilo Ho'olaulea. 

According to Kelly, the film connects the military occupation of Hawaii to the fraudulence of statehood, the Akaka Bill, homelessness, desecration and more. It includes onscreen interviews with Trask, Kaleikoa Kaeo, Noenoe Silva, Keanu Sai, J. Kehaulani Kauanui and others. It has taken Kelly five and a half years so far to get the film to its present state. She said:

"If I get funding, I can finish it in a couple of months. If I don't, well, I don't even want to talk about it. I would need about a little more than $15,000 to finish the project."

Kelly is putting a time limit on completing the film. She would like to finish the project by spring. "I can't do it anymore. This is a Gorilla movie, and so far I have worked for free. I need to take care of myself and move on to a project that will pay," she said. When asked why she had started the project Kelly replied, "As a journalist these are the same issues I saw coming up over and over again for Hawaiians." 

According to Kelly, a Gorilla documentary is usually a short project for public access programming, where she would only have a week, no money, nothing but a camera and some tape. "So I'm going to try and go for it, and try and get some manao and put it out, project it out, so that people get into the politics of things and get activated." 

Kelly said she could set up onscreen interviews and ask the interviewees a set of questions. The rest, according to Kelly, was kind of blind. She said, "I never knew what was going to happen -- I just was going after it with a camera, and it was never planned, always improvised. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't have the journalism background. After years of reporting I knew who might say what. 

So then, I would maybe shadow so and so, because he might do this. It's all fresh and it's all raw, not planned." She started off working with just a few activists focusing mostly on the Striker Brigade. Two years into that project, she realized, "I was never going to be able to finish that film. There were lots of reasons, political mainly, so I had to just move on and find a way to pull the same issues into one space." 

Kelly grew up around the Hawaiian movement. She said, "I was 12-years-old the first time I heard the word sovereignty. I remember how I felt the first time I heard the word. I felt it strong in me. I didn't even know what sovereignty meant." Viewers had strong reactions to the film. 

A citizen from the Czech Republic had a hard time holding back tears as the film ended. She was filled with sorrow after seeing what has become of a peaceful, friendly culture. During Q & A the Czech citizen spoke of how her own homeland is facing similar military occupational issues. She said the film inspired her to help her own homeland conquer its battles. 

An Alaskan Native, also inspired by the film, asked Kelly where to go to get more information so that he could share it with his friends. He wanted to help "spread the word." Kelly hopes that after seeing the film the audiences just take the time to do something, anything. "I hope that people take the time to consider the many things that are crushing Hawaiians from the spiritual to the physical to the physiological to the economics to the cultural. Our people are inundated from every direction. 

I hope Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians go away knowing that this is a terrible hewa (wrong) in multiple ways but also come out on the other end and know that they are supposed to do something to help, At least not make it worse with their opala or bad behavior, at least not make it worse for us, cause we Hawaiians have to really talk to each other and figure out how do we try to move together in a direction that's going to reverse the trend of these things you see in the film." 

 "Noho Hewa" is the winner of the 2008 Hawai'i International Film Festival and Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for best Documentary. "Noho Hewa" was not the only vehicle for education on Jan. 17. 

Simultaneous to Kelly's first showing of the film, Big Island residents were holding signs once again at the Borders parking lot in Hilo to let the public know that it is not OK to take any more from the Hawaiians, as so much has already been taken from them. The controversy covered in "Noho Hewa" has reached the youth of the Big Island. 

They are, as Hawaiian activist Skippy Ioane would say, "agitated and activated." They are taking a stand for the Hewa that has been done to their people. Keli'i Ioane, a 16-year-old junior at Kamehameha Schools Hawai'i Campus, son of activist Skippy Ioane, feels that it is his kuleana (responsibility) to do something about the Hewa. 

When Keli'i was asked why he was holding signs he said: "I believe that Ceded Lands belong to Hawaiians and not the people of Hawai'i. I feel that the lack of resources available to Hawaiians is all too evident in Hawai'i. I'm holding signs to fight the further loss of our inheritance, also to make people aware. I believe it's very important for the youth to be out here, because if we get started now we might be more successful than the previous generations."

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