The Way Forward: Conversations about Race and Reckoning in Hawai‘i

By HIFF News | October 30, 2020

“Hawai‘i is ready to tell our own complex story of race and belonging and it signifies that we need an expanded vocabulary beyond key terms in American racial analysis to advance the conversation.” – Dr. Akiemi Glenn

Hawaiʻiʻs multicultural identity draws many people to its ethnically diverse shores, but institutional racism and colonialism still live on in the islands. In this unique 3 day event, participate in conversations centered on films challenging and expanding notions of race and equality in Hawai‘i and beyond.

Wednesday, November 18, 12:00pm (60 minutes)
Panel 1: Black Lives Matter, POC Lives Matter: Black-led Social Movements
Moderator: Dr. Akiemi Glenn, Executive Director of Popolo Project
Stanley Nelson, filmmaker, co-founder of Firelight Media
Nailah Jefferson, filmmaker, Firelight Fellow

Stories about Black Lives are vital to inspire social change. We look at how films about Black-led social movements impacted the narrative of race and equality in America. Featuring Stanley Nelson, a trailblazing documentary filmmaker and MacArthur “genius” Fellow, panelists discuss themes of cultural resistance, collective action and the power of nonfiction media. We also delve into the reverberations of his work and The Black Panthers to inspire the next generation of filmmakers and activists.

Film Screening: In tandem with this panel, HIFF is presenting a special screening of Stanley Nelson’s BLACK PANTHERS: VANGUARD OF THE REVOLUTION.

Thursday, November 19, 12:00pm (60 minutes)
Panel 2: Mixed Plate: Hapa and Multiethnic Representation in Media
Moderator: Dr. Ethan Caldwell, UHM African American Ethnic Studies Professor
Ursula Liang, Documentary filmmaker DOWN A DARK STAIRWELL
Susan Soon He Stanton, Narrative filmmaker and playwright
Alika Maikau, Narrative filmmaker

A reckoning in Hollywood demands for more representation of Asian, Latinx, Indigenous and Black roles on screen and behind the camera in narrative and documentary media. Hawai‘i is touted as a mixed plate of cultures, boasting the highest number of people identifying as “mixed race.” What is the liminal space hapa and multiethnic filmmakers occupy for multiracial characters and stories? How are those identities represented and what is their place in the larger discussion of diversity in media?

Friday, November 20, 12:00pm (60 minutes)
Panel 3: Cross-cultural Conversation: Black, Latinx & Polynesian Caregiving
Moderator: Dr. Camonia Graham-Tutt, UHWO Community Health Professor
Loira Limbal, filmmaker THROUGH THE NIGHT
Aunty Twinkle Borge, Pu’uhonua o Waianae leader, community activist 
Puanani Kama, Director of Hānaiaulu Childcare Center, Hawaiian immersion childcare

Many working families struggle with child and elder care, which has become even more daunting for Black, Latinx and Indigenous communities because of Covid-19. In Hawaii, Pacific Islander communities have been especially hit hard by the pandemic. How have Polynesian communities built resilience in caregiving through their culture? How have Black and Latinx communities in New York City nurtured resilience in caregiving? What other health issues have become racialized in a pressure cooker environment of survival and security?

Following Panel 3 starting at 1:00pm:

Talk Story with Firelight Media
Host: Monika Navarro, Firelight Media, Senior Director of Artist Programs
Firelight Alums:
Ursula Liang
Ciara Lacy
Laurie Sumiye

Firelight Media is a premier destination for non-fiction cinema by and about communities of color. A casual “talk story” with alumni from their mentorship program is an opportunity for young filmmakers to learn about how they can better tell important stories about their own Asian, Indigenous, Hispanic and Black communities. We discuss how authorship by filmmakers of color are critical to instigating more diverse stories in the American media landscape.

HIFF would like to give a special mahalo to Ciara Lacy and Laurie Sumiye, both accomplished filmmakers, artists, educators and past Firelight fellows, for their vision and drive to program this series.