06-24 November 2019



Made in Hawaii
Lisette Marie Flanary

United States

2019 / 72’ / World Premiere / English


Today it is estimated there are nearly 2 million people dancing hula in Japan—a figure greater than the entire population of Hawaiʻi. With more people dancing hula in Japan than in Hawaiʻi where the native art was born, this explosive growth has created a multimillion dollar industry based on culture as commodity. But what motivates Japanese students and teachers to dance hula and how is it translated into a foreign culture? How do Native Hawaiians participate in this cross-cultural exchange

Many Hawaiian master hula teachers, or kumu hula, have found it difficult to sustain their hula schools in Hawaiʻi. The same is true for many musical artists, cultural experts, and performers who must often work day jobs to pursue their passions and supplement their income on an island home many would consider paradise, but where the cost of living is insurmountable. Many look towards Japan for greater financial opportunities. 

By juxtaposing the two main subjects—Japanese sensei Seiko Okamoto, who is from Japan, but trained by the late revered Hawaiian Kumu Hula Aloha Dalire and Hawaiian Kumu Hula Lōpaka Igarta-DeVera, who was entrusted by Kumu Hula Sonny Ching to move to Japan to open a branch of their school, the film illuminates how the hula has become both big business as well as an evolving global tradition that continues to flourish in Japan.

TOKYO HULA is the final film in a trilogy of award-winning documentaries about the evolution of hula in the global world—AMERICAN ALOHA: HULA BEYOND HAWAIʻI (2003) and NĀ KAMALEI: THE MEN OF HULA (2007), which both screened at HIFF. 

-Anderson Le

Monday 11 18:15 - 19:56Regal Dole Cannery 9 add Filmmaker in Attendance
Sunday 17 18:00 - 19:41Regal Dole Cannery 15 add Filmmaker in Attendance
Thursday 21 19:00 - 20:26Maui Arts & Cultural Center add
Sunday 24 16:30 - 18:11The Palace Theater add
DirectorLisette Marie Flanary.
CastSeiko Okamoto, Lōpaka Igarta-Devera, Sonny Ching, Aloha Dalire and Kawaikapuokalani Hewett.
CinematographerBrian Wilcox.
EditorKyung Lee.
MusicZachary Lum.
SoundJohn Mcfadden.

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