UHMC students and staff were given the opportunity on Thursday, March 22 to view the Maui-made film “Kuleana” before it premiered in theaters. The private screening took place at 2:45 p.m. in the Ka Lama building, room 103. A large lecture room, the classroom had enough chairs to meet the demands of the crowd of college students, faculty, and their friends and family members. By the time the movie began at 3 pm, the classroom was full.
“Kuleana,” written and directed by award-winning filmmaker Brian Kohne, is a suspenseful murder mystery film that takes place in 1959 and 1971. The film displays the struggles many Hawaiians faced during the early days of statehood. Hawaiians were caught in the middle between the preservation of their culture and the modernization of their land. Nohea Kanekoa, played by Moronai Kanekoa, is the main character of “Kuleana” and viewers are first introduced to Nohea as a little boy in the 1959 setting of Hawaii. Nohea was cared for by his tutu, played by Marlene Sai, and his father, Bill Kanekoa, played by Kainoa Horcajo. Nohea and his best friend, Kimberly Coyle, would spent hours combing through dirt and racing through the creeks near Nohea’s house. Kimberly felt safe when she was with Nohea and Bill Kanekoa. Because of this, when her life was endangered, she had the courage to make the necessary leap to ensure her safety.
The film shifts to the year 1971 and Nohea has returned from the Vietnam War wounded and bitter in spirit—no longer carefree and joyful, like the days of his youth. Nohea’s tutu is ill and he is growing weary of island life. He no longer has his father or his best friend, Kimberly, who disappeared the same day his father died. Because of this coincidence, authorities have named Bill Kanekoa as a suspect in her disappearance. With plans to start a new life, Nohea agrees to sell his tutu’s land to Kimberly’s father—just as Kimberly, played by Sonya Balmores, mysteriously returns home. The two reconnect, and as Nohea sets out to help her, he rediscovers the meaning of kuleana and ohana.
“Kuleana” is now playing in theaters statewide. The film was scheduled to play for only three days, but after a strong opening weekend, it was held over for a second week and expanded to three more theaters on Oahu. Everyone involved in the making of the film is excited to announce that there will be a showing in Los Angeles on Saturday, May 5. The filming took place two years ago and many hours of hard work have since gone into the creation of this film. As Brian Kohne said: “It’s time to reclaim our story so Hollywood doesn’t tell it.”