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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, December 5, 2003

OHA seeking sponsors to finance film

By Timothy Hurley
Advertiser Staff Writer

PUKALANI, Maui — The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is looking for partners to help finance the production of a feature film telling the story of the plight of Native Hawaiians.

The aim of the movie is to go beyond a documentary to "touch the hearts" of Americans in a national broadcast as Congress considers federal recognition of Native Hawaiians, OHA officials said yesterday.

OHA administrator Clyde Namu'o told the board of trustees that the agency is hoping to recruit three large corporate sponsors, the Kamehameha Schools and other Native Hawaiian agencies to help finance the project, estimated to cost from $200,000 to $400,000.

The 90-minute film was suggested by trustee Boyd Mossman, a former judge from Maui.

"We've got to get better and more widespread information out there on the Hawaiian plight," Mossman said. "What we're doing now is simply not enough."

A good story, told in historical context, would "touch the hearts" of those who watch it, allowing them to appreciate why Native Hawaiians are in the predicament they're in and why they are fighting for their rights, Mossman said.

The feature film, as envisioned, would not be for release in movie theaters, Namu'o said, but would fall somewhere between a documentary and a commercial film.

It would do more than just chronicle the injustices suffered by Hawaiians by telling a story through the eyes of someone who has actually experienced it, Namu'o said.

Trustee Collette Machado suggested that a local director and/or scriptwriter be used for the project, and Namu'o said award-winning Hawai'i filmmaker Edgy Lee has already been contacted. But, he added, the creative team would still be chosen through a competitive process.

Namu'o said he's aiming for script preparation in the first quarter of next year and is hoping a final product is available in time to help sway Congress as it debates recognition of Native Hawaiians.

In addition to a national broadcast, the film would be available for showing at schools and accompanied with booklets, Mossman said.