PODCAST: ‘The Wind and the Reckoning’ movie brings Hawaiian history to life

A still photo from "The Wind and The Reckoning" featuring Lindsay Watson, Kahiau Perreira and...
A still photo from "The Wind and The Reckoning" featuring Lindsay Watson, Kahiau Perreira and Jason Scott Lee.(Lynmar Entertainment)
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 5:11 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A new movie that centers on the real-life events of the 19th century leprosy outbreak and the story of a Native Hawaiian who fights against forced relocation to Molokai is set to make its premiere in Hawaii.

“The Wind and the Reckoning,” produced and directed by Big Island-based director and HIFF alumnus David L. Cunningham, will open on Oahu on Nov. 3 at the Hawaii International Film Festival after making the rounds at different film festivals in the past month.


The film stars Jason Scott Lee, who plays Koolau, and Lindsay Watson, who plays Piilani.

Though they both grew up in Hawaii, they agreed that speaking Olelo Hawaii for the movie was one of the toughest challenges.

“I think in a way, when you hear Hawaiian language on the radio or on the TV, it’s very different from what this period was like, and I feel, learning it was not half bad, but performing it under all the circumstances of lights and camera, action, rolling and all that, that was that was daunting,” Lee said.

For Watson, she said that even though she was born and raised in Hawaii, went to Kamehameha Schools Maui and was very familiar with the language, speaking it for the movie was a huge undertaking in itself.

“As a Hawaiian, in this modern day and as an actress, you want to make sure you’re doing right by the culture, doing right by the people. So I put that weight on my shoulders and it was very stressful,” she said.

Lee said prior to production, he called Cunningham and almost backed out of the role.

“And I called him and said, ‘You know, I think you should have a get a native speaker to perform this role because I don’t want to watch it. You know, I have too much respect for the Hawaiian culture and the people,’” Lee said.

But Cunningham convinced him to keep at it.

And Lee was grateful he did. He described it as one of the most pivotal roles he’s ever done.

“Maybe it’s because where I am in my age ... but also the content of this film around how passionate I was performing the role, I think it created a dynamite effect,” he said. “And I think after watching the film for myself and being very critical of all of my work, it’s one of the most outstanding films I’ve done.”

Another challenge: Filming during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.

The cast and crew had to quarantine for two weeks and then were confined to a production bubble for about a month. There were so many unknowns – and those in the bubble had limited communication with the outside world.

But Watson said it ended up being a wonderful experience.

“We were so lucky that the cast and crew that agreed to do this, everyone was there with a good heart,” she said. “Everyone wanted to just tell the story. And when we got there, we blended like no other. Immediately campfires hanging out by the pool like you would have never noticed that we were all trapped in this bubble.”

In the latest episode of Island Beat, Billy V spoke to Lee and Watson at the Boston Film Festival, where “The Wind and the Reckoning” made its worldwide debut. Hear more from the actors by listening to this episode, wherever you get your podcasts.

The Hawaii International Film Festival opens with “The Wind and the Reckoning” at the Bishop Museum on Nov. 3.

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