HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Cameras started rolling in fall of 2007, and now, almost four years later, the film "One Voice" is making its theatrical debut.
The documentary goes behind-the-scenes at the annual Kamehameha Schools song contest. It's ready-made drama that's so much more than a competition.
Long before Glee was glam, there was the Kamehameha song contest. One Voice follows 10 student song leaders over the course of a year, and school administrators gave filmmakers full access.
Director Lisette Marie Flanary explains, "I think, in the beginning, they were kind of like, 'Well, everyone knows song contest. Why would you want to make a documentary about song contest?' And for me, it was really like, 'Well, everyone in Hawaii knows about song contest but not necessarily the mainland or the rest of the world."
Local music legend Robert Cazimero makes a cameo. "Who do you think the judges want to get at the most? Thank you. It's you guys!" Cazimero tells a roomful of boys during practice.
While music weaves this movie together, it's really, what happens off-campus that provides the film's most dramatic backdrop. "Everyone really kind of opened up the minute you kind of left school and got to go to church with them or to a backyard luau. It was really, really amazing," says Flanary.
Film crews shadowed the students from dawn 'til dusk – at home, on neighbor islands, and during field trips. One student describes her visit to a taro farm. "We were only allowed to speak in Hawaiian. I've never done that and just talked in Hawaiian only and have other people talk to me in only Hawaiian."
"When you see how the Hawaiian language and Hawaiian music and Hawaiian values are very alive and present in the lives of these totally modern teenagers who are texting and calling on their cell phones and worrying about their wrestling tournament," says film producer Ruth Boland, "… to see that they still have such a firm, living knowledge of their culture, to me, I think that's what the film is about."
And what happens behind-the-scenes may give audiences a greater appreciation for what they see on stage. "In the end, the film is so not about who wins. It's really about the journey that all of these young students take together," says Flanary.
Now, you'll be able to take that journey, too.
One Voice opens Friday, August 26th at Consolidated theatres at Ward 16 and Kahala in Honolulu and at Queen Kaahumanu theatre on Maui. Consolidated will follow the box office numbers at these three theatres over the next two weeks, and if One Voice does well, the movie will hit screens nationwide.