One Night. One Chance. ONE VOICE
Broadcast Premiere: Sunday, November 28 at 7:00 PM
The Kamehameha Schools Song Contest, a tradition for 90 years, is a celebration of Hawaiian music. There is no other place in the world where you can find this kind of musical competition. All students at the High School in grades 9-12 participate in the performance. While the film follows the lives of several song directors over the course of a year as they prepare for the Song Contest, it also explores their world outside of school by meeting their ohana and revealing their hopes and dreams for the future.
ONE VOICE is a 100% locally funded (Pacific Islanders in Communication) and produced documentary that premiered at the Honolulu International Film Festival October 15, 2010 and will have its broadcast premiere on PBS Hawaii well in advance of its distribution through PBS nationally. Song Contest is a one-of-a-kind presentation of Hawaiian music featuring the melodies of a cappella choral music performed in harmony by thousands of high school students. Filmed in High Definition, this feature-length documentary follows the student song directors as they experience the trials and tribulations of competition held in March 2008. That year the theme was 'Ola Ka 'Olelo - 'Oiwi O Ka 'Aina or celebrating Hawaiian language revitalization. Given a front row seat for a unique contest in a unique setting, the audience is led through a process that demonstrates a love for community, passion for Hawaiian music, and the story of a people who nearly lost their language and culture.
All the student song directors in the film have left Kamehameha Schools and most have moved on to college in Hawaii or on the mainland. Kahala Rowe, class of 2008 Girls' Competition Director, is attending Brigham Young University in Lai'e and enjoys the atmosphere of mingling with students from all over the world, such as Kenya, Russia, Samoa and Hong Kong. "As a Kanaka (person) you gotta represent, we're a dying race, you know," says Rowe. "There's not many people that oleleo (speak the language) . It almost makes me jealous to hear Samoan spoken so fluently out here and I think that's what opened my eyes."
Class of 2010 Combined Class Competition Director Zachary Lum is a freshman at the University of Hawaii at Manoa on a full Regent Scholarship. His goal is to study music and Hawaiian language, and he says, "I guarantee that whatever I have learned here, and it's been a lot, I'm going to use it more, I just don't know what yet. It's exciting!"
Brolin-Duke Kawewehi, class of 2009 Boys' Competition Director, is attending the University of Oregon at Eugene and says although he loves Hawaii, being away from home is an opportunity to spread the Hawaiian culture. "They ask me, 'How come you moved away? You would be the first person who stayed home.' But I told them I'm just trying to do my part. It's one thing to stay home and be a part of your Hawaiian culture because it's right here, but it's another thing to go out and be away from Hawaii and still hold the Hawaiian flag on your shoulder."
Class of 2009 Combined Class Competition Director Nadia Le'i is a sophomore at Menlo College in California majoring in communications. "Participation in the ONE VOICE project really inspired me to get into my major. Being away from Hawaii I really try my best to show my classmates up in California the aloha spirit. I think it's really important to go up there and be respectful and show them our true culture."
In her second year at Manhattanville College in Purchase, New York, Sienna Achong says life on the east coast has been a culture shock. The class of 2009 Girls' Competition Director says it's frustrating because people still joke about Hawaiians wearing grass skirts and coconuts. "When I'm at college, the way that I represent being Kanaka, is just letting people know about my culture, about being Hawaiian. That Hawaiian isn't just about being from Hawaii, it's actually a blood thing, that we have ancestors that lived here, that we had our own culture, we have our own language. I'm just shocked that the stereotypes are still out there.
Ka'ai'helo McAfee-Torco is attending Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. The class of 2010 Girls' Competition Director says directing a team of students isn't easy and this experience at Song Contest has helped her develop many important skills. "I know that throughout my life I'm going to have to communicate with other people so I've definitely learned that from Song Contest," says McAfee-Torco.
A freshman at Pepperdine University, class of 2010 Boys' Competition Director Maxwell Mukai says his experience at Song Contest has taught him the importance of giving back to the Hawaiian community. "Doing something for the Hawaiian people as a service leader is what we were all about."
Joshua "Baba" Tavares, who was the class of 2008 Boys' Competition Director, is now a student at the University of Hawaii at Hilo majoring in theater.
ONE VOICE is a production of Juniroa Productions, Inc. and Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC). The documentary's director is Lisette Marie Flanary, an experienced filmmaker who creates documentaries that celebrate a renaissance of traditional Hawaiian culture in the modern world. The producers are Heather Haunani Giugni, a passionate Hawaiian media content collector and the driving force behind Juniroa Productions for more than 25 years and Ruth Bolan, executive director of Pacific Islanders in Communications, a Honolulu-based national not-for-profit media arts organization that supports film, video and new media reflective of the Pacific Islander experience.