Molokai Film Festival 2008

Community celebrates film, music, and the arts.

By Catherine Cluett

Molokai residents enjoyed music, hula and Hawaiian film at its best at the Molokai Film Festival last Saturday night held at Duke Maliu Ball Park. Performers from around Hawaii provided evening entertainment, and festival-goers enjoyed ono food from local vendors. Everyone from keiki to kupuna joined together on blankets on the ground, and as soon as the sun set, film presentations began from filmmakers around the Pacific.

This year’s Film Festival showed over half a dozen pieces, and featured the work of two Molokai filmmakers, Matt Yamashita and Dan Emhoff. “It’s our kuleana to show films of local filmmakers,” said Master of Ceremonies and MauiFest Hawaii co-founder Uncle Boy Kala`e.

Ken Martinez Burgmaier, a filmmaker in his own right and founder of MauiFest Hawaii, accepted Yamashita’s film into the festival just days before the big day. Entitled “Molokai, Return to Pono,” Yamashita said he created the film to help educate visitors and new residents to Molokai about the island’s cultural heritage and vision. “I also wanted to create something that would leave a positive impact,” he explains.

“I think it’s a keeper,” said Uncle Boy after viewing the film. It marked Yamashita’s first entry in the festival, and also the film’s debut on the big screen.

Emhoff’s film, “Ho`oku`u Ku`u O Lono,” documented the closing of the Makahiki ceremony at La`au Point last year.

In its fifth year on Molokai, MauiFest Hawaii’s purpose is to celebrate music, arts, culture, and film, says Burgmaier. “We want to bring high quality Hawaiian film to residents and visitors, and also give the opportunity for local non-profits to raise money selling food and crafts to keep money in the community.”

This year’s festival drew over 1500 people tonight, which is a record crowd, according to Burgmaier. “I’m sitting here watching ohana. It takes their minds off whatever is troubling them, and brings them together,” says Uncle Boy.

The festival is organized as a joint event with Molokai Against Cancer, in cooperation with Molokai Community Health Center and Molokai Cancer Association. Both Uncle Boy and Burgmaier have family members who have been affected by cancer, so it’s a cause especially close to their hearts.

MauiFest Hawaii also visits Lahaina and Hana annually. Burgmaier said they hope to raise sponsorship so they can expand the festival to include other islands in the near future.

Burgmaier also added that they would be returning to Molokai in December to play movies after the Christmas parade. He hopes to return once a month to the Friendly Isle.

Winners of the festival receive the Aloha Visionary Filmmakers Award. “And every film is a winner,” says Burgmaier.

For more information MauiFest Hawaii, visit Mauifest.net.

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