Student’s documentary on the Hawaiian language is showcased by the Smithsonian

Updated: Jun. 19, 2020 at 5:21 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Kamehameha Schools student Liua Tengan enjoys history and filmmaking.

She combined her two interests to produce a short documentary film that details the history of the suppression then resurgence of the Hawaiian language in Hawaii’s public schools.

"I knew that I wanted a local topic, something close to home, something that I was comfortable with," she said.

The Maryland based non-profit National History Day selected her film for its annual project-based contest.

“I saw her documentary and it is very impressive,” executive director Cathy Gorn said. “This isn’t about memorizing names and dates. This is about getting into the stories and telling those stories in creative ways.”

Liua's film is one of only 35 student films playing in the Smithsonian's Digital Showcase.

"It's such an honor to have something that just started off as school project go so far," she said.

It took her six months to research, write, do interviews and edit the 10-minute piece.

Ty Tengan watched his daughter fit the project into her busy school schedule.

"Part of the documentary is also talking about contemporary struggles still happening to normalize Hawaiian in the DOE system and throughout society. We still have a long way to go," he said.

The theme for this year’s National History Day is breaking barriers. Liua hopes the audience understands how her topic fits right in, given what’s going on in the world today.

"I hope they learn that it was a struggle, and it really took lots of time and effort just to get the programs running," she said.

Liua could have done a display, an essay, a play or a website, but she has a knack for video storytelling. “It’s kind of cool to see all these little pieces of audio and pictures and clips come together to make a masterpiece,” she said.

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