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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Saturday, April 8, 2006

Student reviews of ice film mixed

By Beverly Creamer
Advertiser Education Writer

"It's Your Choice," a new Edgy Lee and Jeff Mueller film on the dangers of crystal methamphetamine aimed at seventh- to 12th-graders, premiered yesterday at Ward Stadium theaters to mixed reviews, with some students wishing it had shown more about what it's like to hit bottom.

Seniors from Nanakuli High said the film hit home, especially its interviews with students who had fallen prey to drugs and then managed to get help and escape them. But a couple of eighth-graders from Kawananakoa Middle School wanted it to tell them more and portray a grittier picture of what can happen in the worst-case scenarios.

"It was good, but they should make it longer and show more information," said 13-year-old Kekela Kuwahara. "And show more people more people who had to deal with it so it really scares you. It held back."

Kaui Keawe-Aiko agreed, saying: "It should be more serious."

But 17-year-old Bernee Wahilani-Ulufale said she thought it was good and would help dissuade students from ever trying drugs, especially ice.

"Everything they said was true," said Wahilani-Ulufale. "If you have people our age (in films) we can understand it more. Then we know that's what will happen if we do it."

Cresencio Dace, also 17, and a senior, thought the film was powerful as much a deterrent for him as what his own family has said to him.

"If you're thinking about trying it," they've told him, "you'll get lickin'."

This is the third in a series of films on "ice" from the Lee/ Mueller partnership, with production and directing assistance from Noel Pietsch. Mueller also hopes to develop a program that teachers can use in conjunction with the film to discuss drugs and addiction with their students.

"We'll develop a program that allows the film to start and stop so the teacher can reinforce the material that's in the film," Mueller said.

The film will be distributed to all Hawai'i schools free of charge through support from the Hawai'i Community Foundation, Mueller said. The first two films also were distributed to schools.

Mueller's company, RecoveryWorks, has produced similar films for the ILWU and the maritime industry to offer help for workers who may see drug use around them and not know what to do to help.

"It's not just to help the workplace out but the workers who might have family members (doing drugs) so they understand better what the problem is and how they might do something about it," Mueller said.

The new film is divided essentially into two parts, showing students who have been addicted and those who have chosen positive ways to stay clean.

The latter looks at teens on the Big Island who on their own formed a support group.

"My dad is a drug abuser," says one young man on film, "and I had the opportunity to see the dark side of drug use.

"I was able to look at it and say this is not how I want to be."

Many are trying to reach out to help young people, he said.

"All you have to do is reach out and grab it."

Reach Beverly Creamer at bcreamer@honoluluadvertiser.com.

Correction: Kaui Keawe-Aiko's name was misspelled in a previous version of this story.