HIFF Will Screen Haleiwa Taro Film

Kalo and the preservation of native culture will be on full view at 7 p.m. Saturday at Regal Dole Cannery Theatres, where the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) will screen Kalo Culture.

Daniel Anthony (left) Kaleo Holt (middle) and Kauhi Maunakea-Forth demonstrate the pa‘i‘ai method of processing taro at the 2011 Haleiwa Taro Festival, a cultural tradition that has spawned a small business and new way of life for Anthony and his family — as well as a documentary film made during the Haleiwa Taro Festival. Photo from Kamuela Vance.

The documentary was filmed over three days at the 2011 Haleiwa Taro Festival and focuses on the efforts of cultural preservationist Daniel Anthony, a former Mililani resident, and his family whose Mana‘Ai organization looks to preserve Hawaiian culture.

“I’m tired of the same old documentary with a lot of talking heads, so I wanted to do something that followed Daniel around for three days, video what he does and put it together,” said producer/director Kamuela Vance. “I also wanted to combine the arts … I wanted to incorporate music and poetry, different aspects of the culture of Hawaii and the diverseness.”

The film features poets Noa Helela and Kealoha, and features musicians Makana, Paula Fuga and Ernie Cruz Jr. Vance as well as a split-screen technique so viewers can follow the story without the music or poetry getting lost in the action.

Vance said he sought a story of cultural significance that was different from the typical documentary and found it in Anthony’s efforts to preserve and promote the traditional manufacturing process of pa‘i‘ai, a thicker and sweeter version of poi.

“I could have done it about hula, but everyone knows what hula is. Kalo is the sustenance. We are getting so far away from our roots and our culture, and I think that’s why society is what it is. I think it’s important to go back to where we came from and (focus) on the culture.”

He hopes to get the film in front of audiences not just on Oahu, but Maui and beyond. He’s applied to be in the Sundance Film Festival, as well as the Maui Film Festival.