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2017 Funded Films

Posted on January 22, 2018

Photo: Aloha ʻĀina Warrior: The Awakening of Walter Ritte


Island Soldier

A story that follows Micronesian soldiers serving in the U.S. Military from one of the most remote islands in the world to the front lines of war in Afghanistan.

About the Filmmakers
Nathan Fitch - Director
Nathan is a filmmaker and visual journalist based in Brooklyn, and is currently working in the video department of The New Yorker.   A member of the Brooklyn Filmmakers Collective, Nathan’s award-winning work has been published by The New York Times, TIME magazine, The New Yorker, ESPN, and NPR, to name a few.  Nathan holds an MFA in documentary storytelling from Hunter college, where he was the recipient of the prestigious Welfare and Scholarship fund.  Nathan was also awarded the James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism, and a Picture of the Year International award.   Nathan served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia and has an enduring fondness for Breadfruit.

Bryan Chang - Editor
Bryan is New York-based filmmaker and editor. He is a member-owner of Meerkat Media, a film collective and production company specializing in independent documentary and works for clients such as HBO, MTV Networks, TIME Magazine, and Google. He has worked in post-production at the Onion News Network and The Discovery Channel. His editing on two TIME Magazine documentary shorts "Amnesia and a Camera" and "Breach of Faith" recently won first place awards from Pictures of the Year International and the PDN Photo Annual. He was the lead editor on the critically-acclaimed feature documentary, “Narco Cultura.”

Leitis in Waiting

The Kingdom of Tonga is one of the most socially conservative and deeply religious nations in the world but is also home to a visible community of talented and creative “leitis” or transgender women.

About the Filmmakers

Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson - Director/Producers
Following extensive careers in scientific research and human rights advocacy, respectively, Hamer and Wilson picked up cameras with hopes of reaching broader audiences with stories that would inform and compel people to act.  They formed Qwaves to produce documentaries that emanate from the voices of those on the outside, that inspire creativity, that incite us to abandon our comfortable role as spectators and compel us to question and to act.  Their films have been supported by the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation, ITVS and Pacific Islanders in Communications, won awards at film festivals around the world and used as outreach and educational tools by a wide range of community and educational organizations.

Their feature documentary Kumu Hina, supported by Pacific Islanders in Communications and ITVS, premiered as the sold-out closing night film at the Hawai'i International Film Festival, won the Audience Award for its national PBS broadcast on Independent Lens, and received the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding documentary. The accompanying youth-centered educational film, A Place in the Middle, had its international premiere at the Berlinale and has won awards at numerous children's festivals. The film and accompanying educational toolkit are at the center of a strength-based international educational campaign for gender diversity and inclusion. 

In addition to his film work, Hamer is a scientist emeritus at the National Institutes of Health, the author of several best-selling nonfiction books including The Science of Desire and The God Gene, a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and a sought-after lecturer and frequent guest on TV documentaries and news shows including Nightline and Oprah.  Wilson previously served as Director of the Human Rights Program at Public Welfare Foundation in Washington, D.C., and Producer of Pacifica National Radio's public affairs program Democracy Now. He's a University of Pittsburgh alum and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in the West African nation of Mali.

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu - Story Creator/Producer
Wong-Kalu is a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and community leader with a long history of perpetuating Kanaka Maoli language philosophy and traditions. She was born on O‘ahu and educated at Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawai‘i, from which she received a B.A. in education in 1994. She was a founding member and outreach director of Kulia Na Mamo, a Native Hawaiian transgender health organization. She served 13 years as the Cultural Director at Halau Lokahi, a public charter school dedicated to using Native Hawaiian culture, history, and education as tools for developing and empowering the next generation of Hawaiian scholars. Wong-Kalu also engages in many community affairs and civic activities and is currently the Chair of the O‘ahu Island Burial Council, a state agency which oversees the management of Native Hawaiian burial sites and ancestral remains. In 2014, Wong-Kalu announced her bid for a position on the board of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, making her one of the first transgender candidates to run for statewide political office in the United States.

Wong-Kalu became familiar with documentary film through her collaboration with Hamer and Wilson on Kumu Hina, of which she is the protagonist, and A Place in the Middle, for which she is also the story creator, campaign spokesperson and educational advisor. She has previously worked as a cultural advisor for several film and television programs about the Pacific Islands.


Aloha ʻĀina Warrior: The Awakening of Walter Ritte

For over 40 years, radical island activist Walter Ritte has brought controversy and courage to the front lines of the Native Hawaiian Movement. 


About the Filmmakers

Matt Yamashita - Co-Producer & Director

Matt Yamashita was born and raised on the Hawaiian island of Molokaʻi. He is of Japanese, Filipino, and Caucasian ancestry. After receiving a BFA in Film Production from Chapman University, Matt returned to Molokaʻi to become the island’s first professional filmmaker. He has been working in the Hawaiʻi film industry since 2001. Matt has unique expertise working within Hawaiʻi-based communities, cultures, and environments and has dedicated the focus of his work to telling Hawaiʻi’s stories through a local lens. Matt has held key roles in productions that have received statewide and national broadcast, including PIC-funded Nā Loea: The Masters II (from Pacific Heartbeat Season 4), and The Roots of ʻUlu. He is well-known for his ability to deliver quality products while working with very limited resources and small production teams.

John Antonelli - Co-Producer

John Antonelli has been producing award-winning programs for theatrical release, public television, premium cable and broadcast for over 30 years. His titles include Sam Cooke: Crossing Over, Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats, Unfair Game: The Politics of Poaching, Sea Change, and Angle of Inspiration. For the past twelve years, Antonelli has been producing The New Environmentalists. The half hour series narrated by Robert Redford has been broadcast on PBS and on The Sundance Channel’s environmental programming thread The Green. These environmental documentaries have also screened at film festivals worldwide including Barcelona, New Zealand, Palermo, Lisbon, Seoul, Prague, New Delhi, Telluride, Hawaiʻi, Vermont, and at the United Nations Film Festival at Stanford Univeresity. Sam Cooke: Crossing Over premiered on PBS' American Masters, which garnered an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Nonfiction Series. Jack Kerouac: King of the Beats premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and is currently streaming on Netflix and iTunes. 

Joan Lander - Associate Producer

Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina ("The Eyes of the Land") is an independent video production team that focuses on the land and the people of Hawai'i and the Pacific. Documenting traditional and contemporary Hawaiian culture, politics, history, language, and the environment, Na Maka o ka ‘Aina is committed to giving voice to the current movement toward recognition of Hawaiian independence.



This film follows the story of three Samoan activists as they walk across America to raise awareness of obesity and diabetes, particularly in the Pacific Islander, indigenous and LGBTQ communities they meet along the way.  


About the Filmmakers

Kimberlee Keʻala Bassford - Director/Producer/Writer

Kimberlee is an independent documentary filmmaker from Hawai‘i. She first learned about the issues of obesity and diabetes in the Pacific in college when she spent a semester studying abroad in (Western) Samoa, during which she took Samoan language and culture classes, conducted independent research and lived with local families. That was also when she was introduced to Sia Figiel’s work, which often explores the experiences of Samoan girls. Kimberlee has spent much of her own filmmaking career focusing on the stories of girls and women and the Pacific.

Most recently, she directed, produced and wrote the documentary WINNING GIRL (2014), which follows a Samoan/Hawaiian teenage judo and wrestling phenom vying to become world champion in both sports. The film aired on the World Channel’s signature series “America ReFramed,” as well as on PBS Hawaii and OC16. It also won a Special Jury Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. It is distributed by Women Make Movies in North America and by Java Films internationally. 


Pacific Heartbeat Acquisitions


Ever the Land

An exploration of the bond between people and their land through a landmark undertaking of design and construction by one of Aotearoa New Zealand's most passionately independent Māori tribes, Ngāi Tūhoe.

About the Filmmakers

Sarah Grohnert - Director 
Sarah Grohnert is a director/editor with a strong sense of visual storytelling and the ability to bring an endless amount of patience and curiosity to her projects. Originally trained as an editor in her native Germany, Sarah studied directing at the Arts Institute Bournemouth in the UK and subsequently lived and worked in London for 5 years. Sarah is a New Zealand resident since 2011. Ever The Land is Sarah's debut feature documentary.

Alex Behse - Producer
Alexander is an award-winning creative producer who’s eclectic body of work has resonated across the wider Pacific. From high-end documentaries to celebrated prime-time series, Behse’s drive for risk-taking treatments, engaging subjects and his eye for talent have made him one of the most innovative and prolific young producers of indigenous, factual and adventure programming in the region today.

Born and raised in Germany Alexander Behse settled in New Zealand in 2002. After fast building a reputation as an editor at one of New Zealand's leading production houses Behse turned his hand to producing. The result was three award-winning documentaries The Flight of Te Hookio (2009),  Allan Baldwin: In Frame (2011) and The Road to the Globe (2012) all for leading indigenous broadcaster Maori Television.

Behse exploded into mainstream programming with Radar across the Pacific – a prime-time factual TV series that took top NZ presenter Te Radar on a playful journey inside the many communities, cultures & histories of the wider Pacific Islands. This celebrated series was a ratings success on local screens and won Best Factual TV Series award at the 2012 New Zealand TV Awards and established Behse as a major producer. Behse is currently producing a second series of this hit show and has a feature film in development with Telefilm Canada.

Behse is a hands-on producer committed to excellence in storytelling. Behse will continue to tell the most interesting stories in the most interesting ways, holding dear his boutique brand borne of an innate ability to challenge while captivating viewers with out-of-the-box visual and narrative treatments.

Next Goal Wins

An inspirational story about the power of hope in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds, and an object lesson in what it really means to be a winner in life. 

About the Filmmakers

Mike Brett & Steve Jamison - Directors/Producers 
A directing/producing team, recently named as BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, and joint-founders of Archer’s Mark Ltd, which made the 2016 CE50, Creative England’s honour list of the top 50 creative companies.

In 2014, after five years producing commercial content for some of the world’s biggest brands (Nike, Nokia, YouTube), Archer’s Mark released their debut feature film Next Goal Wins. The movie premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, was released theatrically in a number of territories worldwide and won Best Documentary at the 2014 British Independent Film Awards.

The company’s second feature, War Book (Dir. Tom Harper, Wri. Jack Thorne), a political drama featuring Sophie Okenedo and Ben Chaplin, opened the 2015 Rotterdam International Film Festival and was released theatrically in August 2015. Notes on Blindess (Dir. Peter Middleton and James Spinney), a $1.2m hybrid documentary based on the Emmy award winning short film of the same name, is the company’s third feature and was released in July 2016 to huge critical acclaim. It has been nominated for three BAFTAs, won the Special Jury Prize at San Francisco International Film Festival, the Wellcome Trust Award for Storytelling & Innovation at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2016, and Best Documentary at the 2016 British Independent Film Awards. 

Kristian Brodie - Producer
Until December 2014, Kristian was Head of Development at Agile Films, overseeing the company’s feature film division and managing their slate of development projects in film and TV. While at Agile he produced the company’s debut feature film, Next Goal Wins, which debuted at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival before an international theatrical release. It went on to win the BIFA for Best Documentary.

In January 2015, Kristian left Agile to set up the production company Veryfyne as a vehicle for his ongoing production and development work. His next project will be Beast, the debut feature of two-time BAFTA nominated writer-director Michael Pearce, which is funded by the BFI and Film4 and which will shoot in July 2016.
Further down the line, Kristian is producing the Comedy Drama The Extra Mile, set during the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in London. The project is a co-production with BroedMachine and is in development with BBC Films, with Screen International ‘Star of Tomorrow’ Simon Stephenson attached to write the script.  

Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson

Pinky Thompson thought bigger than himself and further than the single cause at hand. He fought hard against the stigma of an inferior Native Hawaiian. A multifaceted cultural identity was the key to their ultimate survival. This is a Hawaiian story of pain and promise, of challenge and triumph. A story of leadership.  


About the Filmmakers

Ty Sanga - Director 

Ty Sanga is a prolific storyteller, talented director and man with a message. His short film, Stones, a graceful depiction of a Hawaiian legend, was the first entirely in the Hawaiian language to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Sanga quickly returned to Sundance as a Native Lab Fellow to develop his first feature film, After Mele. In addition to Family Ingredients, he has directed a number of TV shows and documentaries that explore the rich complexities of humanity and our continuing struggle to find happiness.

Vince Keala Lucero - Producer

Telly award winner, Vince Keala Lucero, grew up spearfishing and surfing the oceans of West O’ahu. He attended the Kamehameha Schools, where he was chosen to produce an award-winning documentary on the 6th Festival of Pacific Arts. Studying TV and film at Loyola Marymount University, his senior project was the very first music video of the Black Eyed Peas; "Fallin' Up." Post graduation, he joined Swank Audio Visuals, and at 23, became the company’s youngest manager at the Four Seasons Newport, and later the Ritz Carlton Kapalua. Returning to O'ahu to form the videography and A/V company AFP, Lucero focused on work as a Cinematographer, lensing indie favs of the Hawaii International Film Festival like Public Access, Valtor, Symphony for One, Wahine O Ke Kai, and PBS Documentary Feature Na Kamalei: Men of Hula. Using his instincts as a hula dancer, Lucero captured the story of Robert Cazimero’s Halau Na Kamalei as they swept the Merrie Monarch Hula Competition. The film took the Hawaii Filmmaker Award, and Best Documentary at the Hawai'i International, Los Angeles Asian Pacific, San Diego, and San Francisco International Film Festivals. As a native Hawaiian filmmaker, Lucero is committed to developing works from a unique perspective. Throughout his 14 years of filmmaking, his passion has always been to produce works that positively affect the way people think about their impact on the environment, their communities, and themselves.


Special Projects


Family Ingredients Season Two

In the second season of Emmy Award winning series, Family Ingredients, our Hawaiʻi Host Ed Kenney continues celebrating our diversity through food and untold stories. Join us as we explore food memories and family tales that open up stories of the human experience one recipe at a time. Impactful, emotional, powerful.


About the Filmmakers 

Ed Kenney - Host

Ed Kenney is a successful restaurateur who had no idea he wanted to be a chef – or a TV host.

After graduating from the University of Colorado and spending four years in commercial real estate, Kenney spent a year backpacking the globe, immersed in culture and contemplating life and self.  It was on a street corner in Hanoi over a steaming bowl of pho that his revelation occurred: “Food is the unifying fabric of humanity, connecting us to the earth and each other.”  From that point forward, a new path was forged.

Upon his return home to Hawaiʻi, Kenney attended the Culinary Institute of the Pacific and trained in Honolulu’s top restaurants. With a strong commitment to farm-to-table cooking, he opened his first restaurant, Town, in 2005 to rave reviews.  Today, his four restaurants – Town, Kaimuki Superette, Mud Hen Water, and the newly opened Mahina & Sun’s – are lively gathering places guided by the mantra “local first, organic whenever possible, with aloha always.”

The James Beard Foundation has named Kenney a semi-finalist for Best Chef: West each year since 2013.  He has cooked for First Lady Michelle Obama and been featured in top publications like Food & Wine, Bon Appetit, Saveur, Conde Nast Traveler, and Travel + Leisure.

He sits on the board of directors for MA‘O Organic Farms, Kōkua Hawai‘i Foundation, and Sustain Hawai‘i.  He is also on the advisory board for Hogan Entrepreneurs, the Culinary Institute of the Pacific at Kapi‘olani Community College, and the Culinary Program at Leeward Community College.

Born and raised in Honolulu, he is the son of Broadway performer Ed Kenney and renowned hula dancer Beverly Noa – both famed Waikīkī entertainers of the ‘60s and ‘70s.  

His crowning achievement, to date, is his family – wife, Spanky and kids, Celia and Duke.

Heather H. Giugni - Executive Producer/Producer

Heather H. Giugni is a creative director who likes making connections – and Family Ingredients does just that – connecting food, people and places. An award-winning producer, Giugni is a gifted storyteller and enjoys building a narrative that can make a difference in people’s lives.  She has produced and directed many documentaries including Daniel K. Inouye: An American Story, One Voice, and Under a Jarvis Moon. A strong advocate of history, education, and video curriculum, Giugni also founded ‘Ulu‘ulu, Hawai‘i’s official moving image archive.

Renea Veneri Stewart - Producer/Director of Photography

Renea Veneri Stewart knows the ins and outs of production and works tirelessly to achieve the best possible product. Passionate about preserving Hawai‘i’s beauty and culture, Stewart documents life through film and stills, using the highest quality photographic tools. She’s skilled in live television broadcast, documentaries, commercials, and short films. An Emmy Award-winning producer, gifted project designer, talented published photographer, and Emmy nominated director of photography for Family Ingredients, Stewart is always telling rich stories through the lens.

Ty Sanga - Director/Writer

Ty Sanga is a prolific storyteller, talented director and man with a message. His short film, Stones, a graceful depiction of a Hawaiian legend, was the first entirely in the Hawaiian language to be shown at the Sundance Film Festival in 2011. Sanga quickly returned to Sundance as a Native Lab Fellow to develop his first feature film, After Mele. In addition to Family Ingredients, he has directed a number of TV shows and documentaries that explore the rich complexities of humanity and our continuing struggle to find happiness.


Digital Shorts Fund


Down on the Sidewalk in Waikīkī

A lowly, soft-spoken janitor works in Waikīkī, surrounded by speedy Japanese, overweight Americans, and displaced Hawaiians. To keep from going insane, he channels his perspective of the overbearing city by writing poems. A run-in with an old homeless man one fateful night leaves the janitor scarred with a haunting memory that awakens his humble voice. 


About the Filmmakers

Justyn Ah-Chong - Director

Born and raised on the island of Oʻahu, Justyn Ah Chong is a Native Hawaiian filmmaker seeking to tell unique and culturally rooted stories. Justyn works as a full-time videographer and editor at ʻŌiwiTV – Hawaiʻi’s first and only indigenous television broadcasting network. There he had the opportunity to craft his skills behind the camera and in the edit bay on numerous mini-documentary projects, news pieces, commercial work and non-profit videos. Through ʻŌiwiTV he’s been blessed to travel the world, sailing with and documenting the Hōkūleʻa’s Worldwide Voyage and has collaborated on several PBS national documentaries, including the Nā Loea series, and Lets Play Music! Slack Key with Cyril Pahinui a nd Friends. Most recently Justyn was the Director of Photography on the feature length documentary M ELE MURALS, which continues to screen at film festivals around the world and is receiving much positive reviews and winning numerous awards. It is also slated for a PBS National release in May of 2017.

Richard Hamasaki- Executive Producer  

From 1975 to the present, Richard Hamasaki has been active in Hawaii’s literary arts. He’s worked collaboratively with poets, musicians, artists, photographers, filmmakers, writers, scholars and teachers — from Hawaiʻi to Antigua, Aotearoa, Argentina, Barbados, Fiji, Guam, Japan, Morocco, Samoa, and the U.S. continent. In 1985, he co-founded the Hawaii Amplified Poetry Ensemble, contributing original compositions as bass guitarist and spoken word artist. Hamasaki taught language arts from 1975 to 2015, including 28 years in the English department at Kamehameha Schools, Kapālama campus. He continues to write and produce amplified poetry, short films, and collaborate artistically with artists locally, regionally and internationally. 

ʻĀina Paikai - Writer

In 2013 he was chosen amongst hundreds of applicants to the Sundance Native Lab Fellow, selected for his talent in screenwriting. ʻĀina currently works as a photographer and editor for ‘ŌiwiTV, which is an indigenous focused channel that tells stories from a native point of view. 

Kaipo Kīʻaha - Producer

Kaipo Kī‘aha is a Honolulu based indigenous Hawaiian photographer, graphic artist and filmmaker, specializing in culturally relevant documentary style productions. He captures the moments as they happen, and participates in events as both a member of the community and a teller of their stories. 

Kali Kasashima - Director of Photography

Kali is an award-winning filmmaker who was born and raised in Hawaii and graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa's Academy of Creative Media Film Program. His award-winning short film N . King was selected to screen at several festivals across the U.S. and won the Eurocinema Hawai'i Award in 2014 for Best Student Film. After gaining experience in the local film industry for several years, Kali has relocated to Los Angeles where he's worked in the Editorial department on The Fate of The Furious, and Kong: Skull Island. 


Hae Hawaiʻi 

This film is a historical fiction about one man’s bold journey to steal the Hawaiian flag during the annexation of the Territory of Hawaiʻi. The territorial officers have been placed on high alert and ordered to mute any trace of protest. Micah Kumu, a young Hawaiian man who is devoted to the Queen and raised by the bible, painfully watches the Hawaiian flag be lowered and the American flag be raised at ʻIolani Palace. As the ceremony continues, Micah slips past businessmen, sugar planters, and territorial officers on his way to the flag, but he is finally apprehended by a Hawaiian officer. 


About the Filmmakers 

Ty Sanga - Director/Producer

Ty Sanga’s wonderful Hawaiian language film, Stones, screened at the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in 2011. His graceful depiction of the Hawaiian legend illustrates his authentic voice and visual style. Ty Sanga's award winning films have screened at numerous film festival around the world. Sanga is a prolific storyteller, a talented director and a man with a message. He participated in the Sundance Native Lab Fellowship with hisfeaturefilm After Mele starring Jason Scott Lee and a stable of up in coming Hawaiian actors. His TV show Family Ingredients won an Emmy in 2014 and they are in current production for Season 2. His latest feature documentary, Visions in the Dark: The Life of Pinky Thompson, premiered at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival and will be airing on PBS in 2017.

Caleb Lucero - Producer 

Caleb Lucero is a Native Hawaiian independent film producer born and raised on the island of Oahu. As an alumni of Kamehameha Schools he is driven by a deep desire to perpetuate and accurately portray the Native Hawaiian culture thru film, television and new media. His recent film projects include “Visions in the Dark: The life of Pinky Thompson”, and “The Haumana.”

Lucero is also an active member of the International Cinematographers Guild and just recently finished working on Sony Pictures remake of “Jumanji.” He has had the pleasure of working for ABC, CBS, 20th Century Fox, Showtime, Discovery Channel and Universal Studios. 

Keala Lucero - Cinematagrapher

The oldest of five brothers, Vince Kealaokalani Lucero grew up diving and surfing the oceans of West O'ahu. In 2007, Lucero teamed up with fellow filmmaker Scott Mason to form Co Creative Studios, one of the few local companies able to take a project from script to screen. Now in it's 9th year, Co Creative takes on numerous TV, commercial and film projects. Equipped with a complete line of RED Cameras, Co Creative is dedicated to digital cinema production.

As a Native Hawaiian filmmaker, Lucero is committed to developing works from a unique, and value driven perspective. His passion is telling the stories of this land and people through art. His mission, to produce works that positively influence the way people think about their impact on environment, their communities, and themselves. 

Oliver Evangelista - Writer

He wrote the feature length docudrama, Gina’s Journey: The Search for William Grimes, which premiered in 2017 at the Pan African Film Festival in Los Angeles and is scheduled to play at several other festivals. He is on a constant quest to connect with people anywhere and believes the medium of film provides the best opportunity to accomplish that goal.

Oliver currently resides in Kamuela, on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii, with his awesome family. 


I Am Because You Are

When Kaiea, a twelve-year-old on Maui, learns his grandfather is suffering from Alzheimer’s, he’s desperate to build a machine capable of recording and storing memories before it’s too late. 


About the Filmmakers

Stefan Schaefer, Writer/Director/Producer

Stefan's films have premiered and won awards at festivals such as the Berlin, Hawai’i and SxSW, among many others, and have been successfully released theatrically and on TV channels such as PBS, HBO and the Sundance Channel. 

He has over ten feature film credits to his name as a writer, director and/or producer, among them MY LAST DAY WITHOUT YOU, Olaf de Fleur Johannesson's THE AMAZING TRUTH ABOUT QUEEN RAQUELA and ARRANGED. Most recently, he produced the feature KULEANA, starring Moronai Kanekoa, Sonya Balmores, Kristina Anapau, Marlene Sai, Branscombe Richmond, and Mel Cabang. In addition to these indie features, Stefan and writing partner Chris Silber have written four TV movies for leading European networks ARD and ZDF, two of which filmed in Hawai’i.

On the documentary front, Stefan directed the one-hour film CONTESTED STREETS, which screened widely at environmental film festivals and aired as part of "The Green" series on the Sundance Channel. In 2015, he released a feature documentary on Poet Laureate and environmental activist W.S. Merwin, entitled EVEN THOUGH THE WHOLE WORLD IS BURNING. A one-hour version of the film was broadcast nationally on PBS in 2016.

In the past three years, Stefan has developed and sold TV shows to companies such as Sony Pictures TV, the Weinstein Company and Mandeville. He and author Kristiana Kahakauwila currently have a Hawaii-set TV series in development with Big Beach and AMC. Additionally, he co-created the series SURF BREAK HOTEL with Jonathan Stern of Abominable Pictures. The pilot shot on Maui in 2016 and is currently being shopped.

An active member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA), Stefan is managed by LA-based Industry Entertainment. He and his family live on the North Shore of Maui, Hawai'i. 

Thomas Paʻa Sibbett, Producer

Pa’a was raised by parents who taught him that being Hawaiian isn’t a disadvantage but an opportunity to share Aloha. He’s spent much of his life engaged in various forms of sharing his culture, but it’s through professional storytelling and filmmaking that he’s found the best way to share the spirit of Hawai’i. He wrote the feature film BRAVEN (2017) for Jason Momoa, as well as ENEMY IN THE VALUE, currently in development with Momoa’s Pride Of Gypsies Productions. He and Stefan have a period TV show in development with the Weinstein Company, also set in Hawai’i. 


Last Taxi Dance

In a ballroom called Paradise, in the aftermath of World War II, a proud Hawaiian singer dances with a returned American soldier and debates the dignity of the American dream. But when his dance tickets run out, she is left with a harsh choice – for when the dancing stops, this man will die. 


About the Filmmakers

Brayden Yoder - Director

Born and raised in Honolulu, Hawai’i to an Indonesian immigrant mother and an American father, Brayden Yoder spent more than five years at the Film & Television Institute of India, where he first learned to practice his craft in film direction. His most recent short film, Breakdown, gained acceptance to several festivals in North America and around the world, winning the “audience award” at the March 2014 HollyShorts Screening in Hollywood and an “emerging artist” award at the 2014 Taos Shortz Festival in New Mexico. 

Ciara Lacy - Producer 

Ciara has a background in producing documentary content for film and television, managing and supervising independent narrative features, as well as coordinating product placement and clearances for a variety of platforms. Her work has shown in theaters and has aired on PBS, ABC, TLC, Discovery, Bravo and A&E. She is the inaugural recipient of the Sundance Institute's Merata Mita Fellowship (2016) in addition to currently benefiting from a Princess Grace Awards Works in Progress residency. Ciara is also honored to have been a Firelight Media Lab Fellow (2014-2016), a Sundance Institute Time Warner Fellow (2015), a Tribeca All Access Fellow (2014), a Princess Grace Foundation Award Winner (2013), a Sundance Institute NativeLab Directing Fellow (2012), and an IFP Producer of Marketing and Distribution Fellow (2012). Her work has received support from institutions such as ITVS, the MacArthur Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and National Minority Consortia member Pacific Islanders in Communications. 

Chapin Hall - Cinematographer

Straddling the worlds of fiction and documentary filmmaking, Chapin is a Hawaii & Los Angeles based Cinematographer. Trained by legendary documentary cameraman, Bob Richman, Chapin has worked on feature films, commercials, and TV under some of the best directors of non-fiction film; from RJ Cutler, Joe Berlinger, Bruce Sinofsky, and Albert Maysles, to Academy Award winners like Nathaniel Kahn, and Davis Guggenheim. An accomplished visual artist in several media before picking up a film camera, Chapin seeks to craft visual language which is unique to each creative endeavor through an artistic approach to cinematography and deep trust for the collaborative spirit of film. 


Make Migration Matter! 

A better life... good paying jobs...education for their children...” As the newest group of Pacific Islanders to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands, Micronesians aspire to the same dreams as every new immigrant group before them. Similarly, many face discrimination and poverty as they struggle to build new lives. Despite these obstacles, higher education remains the key to unlocking the American dream for themselves and their families. 


About the Filmmakers

Lola Quan Bautista - Director/Producer

 Lola is an associate professor at the Center for Pacific Islands Studies at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. For over twenty years, she has been doing research on Micronesian migration, settlement in urban spaces, and ongoing connections between diasporic communities and their home island nations. She has two publications that deal closely with the topics of the proposed film series: a book titled Steadfast Movement around Micronesia: Satowan Enlargements beyond Migration (2010) and an article in the journal City and Society titled “Building Sense Out of Households: Migrants from Chuuk (Re)creating Local Space in an Urban Setting” (2011). Especially after directing her film Breadfruit and Open Spaces (2013), Lola has become increasingly interested in promoting social justice through films as well as developing classroom curricula. 

Shirley Thompson- Producer/Editor  

Shirley has more than 30 years of experience as documentary editor, writer, and producer. She is best known for the PBS documentaries she has edited, most recently: Kū Kanaka (2016), Winning Girl (2014), and Pidgin: The Voice of Hawai‘i (2008). Shirley collaborated with director Lola Quan Bautista as producer and editor of Breadfruit and Open Spaces (2013). Shirley recently co-produced, and edited Finding KUKAN, a feature documentary that screened at the Hawai‘i International Film Festival & DOCNYC in 2016 and CAAMfest San Francisco in 2017. As a Latina and a daughter of immigrants, she is committed to filmmaking that builds bridges across cultures and communities. She is based in Honolulu, Hawai‘i. 

Valerie Narte - Director of Photography

Valerie is a filmmaker and photographer born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. In 2012, she graduated from the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa with a BA in Creative Media with a focus on cinematic narrative production. She currently works as the Filmmaker-in-Residence and Documentarian for Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking. Her passion for visual media began at age seven when she began taking art lessons at the Honolulu Museum of Art School. At Kalani High School, Valerie developed an interest in creative writing and independent films which inspired her to write and direct her own stories. Her films express her unique humor. One film, called Library: Special Division (2012), focuses on a sexually-repressed book detective who must track down a pair of kidnappers in search of the secret to time travel. 



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