Big Sunset crowd sees premiere of 'Ride'
By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer
The crowd had pushed past 5,000 people last night an hour before the big projectors kicked off the Hawaii International Film Festival's premiere of "The Ride" at Sunset on the Beach. Latecomers, unable to find room on the beach, were spilling over onto the sidewalks.
"This is what we've always wanted," beamed Malcolm Tom, city deputy managing director. "This is great: tourists and residents coming together for the premiere of a locally made film ... "
Tom said he thought the crowd looked closer to 10,000 people.
Jane Lee of 'Aiea, who came early and found a place on the sand, said she was there because the production was a product of Hawai'i.
"He's a local boy," she said of filmmaker Nathan Kurosawa. "He produced it and did everything. Plus, it's the Hawaii International Film Festival."
Her husband, David, said he was there because his wife told him to come.
"The Ride," is the story of a cocky, haole surfer boy (Scot Davis) who, during a surfing accident, slips back in time to the Waikiki of 1911, before the concrete and traffic and nonstop crowds. There he meets the young Duke Kahanamoku (Sean Kaawa), learns the spirit of surfing as experienced by its 20th century innovators, and falls in love with the beautiful Lehua (Mary Paalani).
"This is a very big crowd," Paalani said last night, as the first-time actress waited beneath the big screen for the movie to start, and looked around a little nervously. "I know everybody expected big, but I didn't think this big. You can't even see the street."
Paalani said she liked the idea of a film about Duke showing on Waikiki Beach, not far from the surfing legend's statue.
"It's awesome," she said. "It's perfect."
Davis, leaning forward and sometimes wrapping his fists in his shirt front, said he felt pretty confident about the movie, but he was a little unnerved by seeing so many of his friends in the audience. His parents were also there, he said.
"They're just teeming with pride," he said. "And this validates my acting career: You're never going to amount to anything? Now they can't say that."
Davis and Johann Bouit, a former UH football player from Tahiti who played Caps, one of Duke's close friends, both said they went to auditions to read for minor roles, and were thrilled to find themselves among the lead actors.
Kurosawa said he wanted to bring local talent to a story about a man who exemplified so many of Hawai'i's best characteristics.
Before the screening, he said, he sent clips of the film to Kahanamoku's relatives, and had flown two people in from the Neighbor Islands for the premiere.
JoAnne Kahanamoku-Sterling of Kona, daughter of Duke's brother Sam and now a grandmother, was just back from Easter Island, sporting new tattoos on her wrist and leg and happily telling stories about how Sam had slowed down to let Duke take the Olympic silver.
The film clip she had seen was short, she said, but she got the general idea and she liked the qualities it exemplified. She also liked the idea of those qualities brought to life in a movie shown on an open beach.
"Something like this brings all these people together," she said.
"The Ride" will show again at 8:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Doris Duke Theatre at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or firstname.lastname@example.org.