Hawaii premier of "Barbarian Princess" sparking controversy and ticket sales

Q'orianka Kilcher portrays Princess Kaiulani in "Barbarian Princess"
Q'orianka Kilcher portrays Princess Kaiulani in "Barbarian Princess"
Chuck Boller
Chuck Boller
Puakea Nogelmeier
Puakea Nogelmeier

By Zahid Arab - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - It's the talk of the town. "Barbarian Princess" is getting bad reviews, before people even see it, and it all has to do with the title. But, audiences are asked to watch first and judge afterwards.

"Barbarian Princess" is the headliner of this year's Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF).

"It's an exciting story, it's a love story, it's a drama" said HIFF executive director Chuck Boller.

It's the story of Princess Kaiulani's beauty, intelligence and her drive to bring voting rights to Hawaiians. It's the hottest ticket in town.

"The screening at the Hawaii theatre completely sold out, we added a new screening, it sold out in less than 24 hours."

It may be because of the film's publicity. Critics gave it two thumbs down, calling the title offensive.

"People who are discussing it without having seen it don't really have what the setting is that it comes out of" said Puakea Nogelmeier, a volunteer language consultant on the film.

He says many Hawaiians were actively involved in its production and that certain changes were made to enhance the story, but the facts are all there.

"If what you're doing doesn't show respect to the reality of that history, then I can't engage."

You can believe the critics before you make your box office choice---but Nogelmeier says investigate, analyze and come up with your own conclusion.

"There's actually a lot of integral points that are really valuable, but if it's critiqued from the outside without ever having been seen, I think we miss the opportunity."

1400 people were at the movie's world premiere Friday night. It's created such a buzz, that the festival expects it to be picked up and distributed nationwide by this spring