Puʻuhonua: A Closer Look at Kimi Howl Lee’s Kamaʻāina

By Lyz Soto on October 19, 2020

In July and August of 2020, we partnered with the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival for a series of events that centered Kimi Howl Lee’s short film Kamaʻāina: Child of the Land. The events and resulting discussions were thoughtful and thought provoking, matching the tenor of the film and the intention of its director.

It’s always remarkable and rejuvenating when creative works dig deep and ask us to think more profoundly about ourselves and the worlds we inhabit. The best of these works are generative—pushing other creators to create. This can be seen in Dr. Kalaniopua Young’s essay, “An ʻElsewhere’ We Call Home,” and it can be seen again here in Puʻuhonua: A Closer Look at Kimi Howl Lee’s Kamaʻāina, directed by Inez Anderson and Jessie Hearther. This short response film collages together the elegant heartfelt words of Kalaniopua’s essay and the moving images of Kimi Howl Lee’s film


Director’s Statement:

Puʻuhonua: A Closer Look at Kimi Howl Lee’s Kamaʻāina was directed by Inez Anderson and Jessie Hearther, youth filmmakers with Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking, a local feminist nonprofit organization committed to achieving intersectional gender equity in filmmaking. Jessie is a senior at Radford High School, and Inez is a junior at Roosevelt High School. This film was created in association with the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities and the Honolulu Rainbow Film Festival.

We were inspired to make this short film in reaction to the film Kamaʻāina: Child of the Land (2020) by Kimi Howl Lee and its accompanying essay, “An ʻElsewhere’ We Call Home” by Tatiana Kalaniopua Young. Both pieces approach the challenges of houselessness, LGBTQ+ rights, and disenfranchisement from the perspective of a queer, Native Hawaiian teenager. This served as both common ground—as we are both queer teens ourselves—and also an opportunity to learn more about the issues that affect other local communities. This issue is multifaceted and complex, so we did our best to portray it as such.