Hawaii-based short film that got accolades on film festival circuit makes its HIFF debut
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - “LAHI” is a new short film that tells the story of an 18-year-old girl who returns to Oahu for her grandmother’s funeral, but ends up re-connecting with her Filipino family’s roots.
“It’s definitely very loosely based on my life as a third-generation Filipina-American woman,” filmmaker Reina Bonta said.
Bonta co-write and directed the story that draws on her own grandmother’s real-life recollections of surviving World War II in the Philippines.
“I’d always grown up hearing her stories. But I think it took a lot and a long time for me to actually listen to what she was saying,” she said.
Bonta’s grandmother, Cynthia, co-stars in the movie alongside the main character Mimi. played by Hawaii-born surfer and actress Tiki Willis.
“Being able to play Mimi was probably one of the most honorable things I’ve done in my career so far. It’s the first role I’ve ever done and a very proud thing I’ve been able to accomplish,” Willis said.
LAHI has shown at film festivals on the mainland.
Its first local showing will be in the upcoming Hawaii International Film Festival.
“Now we’re in the stage of getting the film out to audiences, which is super exciting. It’s been a long time coming and we can’t wait to share the film, especially with the audiences in Hawaii as well,” producer Angelique Axelrode said.
She co-wrote the story with Bonta.
It took five days to film on Oahu last December, and nearly all the cast and crew have Hawaii ties.
“I hope that people realize that their culture is so important to the generations before them, the generations ahead, and just to themselves.” Willis said.
Bonta graduated from Yale, where she starred in soccer. She really got interested in movie-making while working on the set of “Magnum PI.”
Now she’s telling her own stories.
“The thing at the end of the day that I really hope people take away from LAHI is a sense of optimism and a sense of community,” she said.
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