First-Ever HULA Film Festival At Bishop Museum

Nanette Napoleon
Nanette Napoleon
Vera Wong
Vera Wong

KALIHI (KHNL) -- The first-ever hula film festival opens in February at the Bishop Museum. It's a year-long event to celebrate this historic art form.

'Through Namaka's Eyes' is a documentary that focuses on the life of one of Hawaii's living treasures, Pat Bacon. Rare photographs and provocative interviews make this a historically significant, must-see film, if you're interested in hula. It's one of a dozen films the Bishop Museum is showing in its film fest.

According to project coordinator Nanette Napoleon, "Our program is for people that want to know more than the superficial history of hula. We have a whole slate of workshops, lectures, and hula films we're going to show."

This year, the Bishop Museum Association Council invites people to deepen their understanding of hula by exploring special topics within the discipline from a physical, spiritual, and creative perspective through the first-ever, year-long Hula Film Festival, and presented under the auspices of the Council's successful Traditions of the Pacific education program. The Hula Film Festival is sponsored by Kamehameha Schools, Ka'iwakiloumoku Hawaiian Cultural Center.

Museum patrons like Vera Wong are already excited about the festival. "I'm so excited they're going to have it. I love to do the hula and I'd love to learn more about the hula. The hula tells a story. It's so graceful and lovely."

Hula is one of the strongest and most deeply rooted traditions in practice in the Hawaiian culture. Hula has broad-based appeal as an expression of culture worldwide. Napoleon says, "Hula has become much more important in the last 25 years. It had almost gone underground and out of sight, but it's been revived in the last 25 years. There's a lot of people out there now taking, teaching hula. It's spread throughout the world. There's a high degree of interest in this subject matter."

The museum dug in its archives to find one of the films being shown, with footage from the 1930s. Napoleon details, "It's a look at some of the earliest footage of hula ever to be recorded. Then we bring (the festival) up to contemporary times."

Napoleon says in the last decade, there's been a lot of filmmakers interested in the topic. "In 25 years many of the kumu (teachers) recorded will be gone, and this'll be the only way to see how they looked and danced."

This festival is part of the Traditions of the Pacific program, which is an ongoing cultural enrichment and educational program that highlights the unique cultural heritage and natural science of Hawaii, Asia, and the Pacific through stories, fieldtrips, lectures, workshops, and now, films. The popular program began in 1991 and will continue throughout 2008.

The Bishop Museum Association Council's new Traditions of the Pacific: HULA FILM FESTIVAL begins in February 2008 and continues through November 2008 with a film-a-month event presented on Tuesday nights at Atherton Halau on the grounds of Bishop Museum. Films will include a special introduction by a Bishop Museum cultural expert or special guest affiliated with the film.

General admission to the film screenings is $5; Free for Bishop Museum members. Because of limited seating, reservations are recommended and may be made by email or by phone (808) 848-4187.

For more information about the Hula Film Festival contact film festival coordinator Nanette Napoleon at (808) 261-0705, or email: . For more information about Traditions of the

Pacific: The Year of the Hula, call (808) 847-3511 or click on the Bishop Museum link.