Kī Ho‘alu (Loosen the Key) Keola Beamer is an entertaining and intimate performance documentary about master slack key guitarist Keola Beamer. Nearly two centuries ago, Mexican vaqueros (cowboys) brought the guitar to the Hawaiian islands. Intrigued by the versatile instrument, the Native Hawaiians made it their own by loosening or "slacking" the strings. Hence, the unique strumming and fingerpicking style of slack key guitar, or kīho'alu, was born. The practice has been passed down through generations, with each artist adding his or her own innovative style and interpretation.
Today, Beamer captivates audiences with his hypnotic playing. This entertaining documentary showcases his musical artistry and explores the rich history of this cultural art form that holds a special place in traditional and contemporary Hawaiian music.
Beamer has matured to what is now considered the apex of his musical career. As Willie Nelson plainly states in the documentary, "Keola's style is the best slack key that there is on the planet."
The film was produced and directed by Kenneth M. Burgmaier, a Native Hawaiian from Maui who has been making films for more than 15 years. Burgmaier is the creator and host of the award winning television series, Jazz Alley TV, which has been seen in over 80 countries. His most recent productions include: Wa‘a Ho‘olaule‘a (Festival of Canoes), which has won more than seven awards since its creation, as well as his documentary film, John Keawe—Music with the Island Touch. Burgmaier continues to be one of Hawai'i's little known voices, although his work has appeared on A&E, PBS, E!, and HBO.
Best Documentary, New York International Film Festival
Best Cinematography, Los Angeles Independent Film Festival
Golden Remi, Houston International Film Festival.