documentary

POV Shorts
Positive Images

 

A man creates an archive of black excellence and fights for its permanence in “Give.” A family’s audiovisual legacy, identities, and record are revisited in Into “My Life.” Two short docs explore the history and memory of African-American communities.

 

 

 

PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS
Tibetan Illusion Destroyer

PBS HAWAI‘I PRESENTS: Tibetan Illusion Destroyer

 

This film by Maui filmmaker Tom Vendetti documents the Mani Rimdu Festival in Nepal, which originated in Tibet and is still performed in an authentic colorful ceremony in the shadow of Mount Everest. The title refers to the Buddhist concept of destroying man-made illusions that lead to human suffering. Vendetti and renowned Hawaiian musician Keola Beamer were part of a Hawai‘i contingent that journeyed to Nepal to attend the festival. Beamer worked with musicians in Nepal to create the film’s original music.

 

 

 

FRONTLINE
For Sama

 

Filmmaker Waad al-Kateab filmed her life in the rebel-held Syrian city of Aleppo over five years. She fell in love, got married and had a daughter all while filming the violence raging around her — and in particular, documenting the unique challenges the Syrian conflict imposed on women and children.

 

 

 

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE
Chasing the Moon

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of
the moon landing

By Jody Shiroma , PBS Hawaiʻi

 

Apollo 11 Saturn V launch vehicle lifts off from Kennedy Space Center.July 20, 1969 was a momentous day, a day whose events some would refer to later as the “greatest experience of their lifetime.” Parents around the world invited their children to join them around the television, “Come and watch this,” they said.

 

Families gathered around their television sets in awe, listening intently as messages came crackling over the airwaves. From Apollo 11, two American astronauts, Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin, accomplished what no other humans had done – they stepped foot on the moon. Armstrong’s words, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind,” echoed around the world.

 

(Image at right) Apollo 11 Saturn V launch vehicle lifts off from Kennedy Space Center.

 

As Americans and the world shared their experiences, for those living in Hawai‘i the event continued as astronauts Armstrong, Aldrin and Michael Collins made their first landfall on O‘ahu after their capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Their quarantine unit arrived at Pearl Harbor aboard the recovery vessel, the aircraft carrier USS Hornet, on their way back to Houston.

 

In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE and PBS Hawai‘i are premiering Chasing the Moon, a three-part, six-hour documentary series that brings the awe, excitement and unforgettable experience to life for both those who lived through it and for the generations who have come after.

 

Apollo 11 astronauts (from left): Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. share a laughFrom the space race’s earliest beginnings to the monumental achievement of the first lunar landing in 1969 and beyond, this series recasts this period as a fascinating time of scientific innovation, political calculation, media spectacle, visionary impulses and personal drama. Utilizing previously overlooked and lost archival material – much of which has never before been seen by the public – the film features a diverse cast of characters who played key roles in these historic events.

 

Among those are astronauts Aldrin, Frank Borman and Bill Anders; Sergei Khrushchev, son of the former Soviet premier and a leading Soviet rocket engineer; Poppy Northcutt, a 25-year old “mathematics whiz” who gained worldwide attention as the first woman to serve in the all-male bastion of NASA’s Mission Control; and Ed Dwight, the Air Force pilot selected by the Kennedy administration to train as America’s first black astronaut.

 

(Left) The Apollo 11 crewmen, still under a 21-day quarantine, are greeted by their wives. (Center) Poppy Northcutt became the first woman in an operational support role to work in NASA’s Mission Control Center in Houston with the flight of Apollo 8. (Right) Ed Dwight, the first African American to be trained as an astronaut

 

“When we think of that breathtaking moment of the 1969 moon landing, we forget what a turbulent time that was,” said Mark Samels, AMERICAN EXPERIENCE executive producer. “The country was dealing with huge problems – Vietnam, poverty, race riots – and there was a lot of skepticism about the space program. Chasing the Moon explores the unbelievably complex challenges that NASA was able to overcome. It was a century-defining achievement, and our film tells a familiar story in an entirely new way.”

 

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE

CHASING THE MOON

Monday – Wednesday at 9:00 pm
July 8 – 10
on PBS Hawaiʻi

Watch Preview

AMERICAN EXPERIENCE: Chasing the Moon - cover story

 

 

 

POV
Minding the Gap

POV: Minding the Gap

 

First-time filmmaker Bing Liu’s documentary Minding the Gap is a coming-of-age saga of three skateboarding friends in their Rust Belt hometown. While navigating a complex relationship between his camera and his friends, Bing explores the gap between fathers and sons, between discipline and domestic abuse and ultimately that precarious chasm between childhood and becoming an adult.

 

Preview

 

 

 

Special “Lost Battalion” Film Screening for War Veterans

 

CEO Message

Special “Lost Battalion” Film Screening for War Veterans
World War II veterans Robert Kishinami, Henry Ishida and Takeo Ikeda

World War II veterans Robert Kishinami, Henry Ishida and Takeo Ikeda

 

It was a full house, as sons, daughters and other family members and friends came out in force with some of Hawai‘i’s World War II veterans of Japanese ancestry for a special screening of a documentary film, Rescuing the Lost Battalion: The Story Behind the Heroes. The film was made by the international arm of Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK.

 

It’s a painful war story that many people in Hawai‘i know. Many local boys of Japanese ancestry suffered grievously to save Texas soldiers who were pinned down by German gunfire in steep, dense woods in France. The Japanese Americans had volunteered for their country’s wartime infantry, patriotic to a government that distrusted them.

 

This epic battle is only now starting to become known throughout Japan. The film director, 30-something Yoichiro Sasagawa, and several NHK World-Japan executives came to Honolulu last month and gave local veterans an opportunity to view this English-language version of the film in person before it airs on PBS Hawai‘i next month.

 

Left image: Decorated war veteran Yasunori Deguchi told me he’s always mindful of the fallen soldiers. Center image: Film director Yoichiro Sasagawa (right) greets Laura Miho (seated), widow of veteran/lawmaker “Kats” Miho. Right image: Taeko Ishikawa lost her husband George, her brother Kazuo and her cousin Tsugio in WWII.

Left image: Decorated war veteran Yasunori Deguchi told me he’s always mindful of the fallen soldiers. Center image: Film director Yoichiro Sasagawa (right) greets Laura Miho (seated), widow of veteran/lawmaker “Kats” Miho. Right image: Taeko Ishikawa lost her husband George, her brother Kazuo and her cousin Tsugio in WWII.

 

Nine World War II vets in their 90s, including former Gov. George Ariyoshi, attended, as did four widows of veterans. They were among more than 400 attendees. Widow Taeko Ishikawa still makes every effort to represent her husband George, who passed away in 1970.

 

One of the attending vets, Takeo “Ike” Ikeda, opened up about his experiences in the battle for the Lost Battalion for the first time in his life, in an emotional interview that’s part of the film.

 

This hour-long documentary will air on PBS Hawai‘i at 8:00 pm on Saturday, August 4.

 

Aloha nui,

Leslie signature

 

Leslie Wilcox
President and CEO
PBS Hawai‘i

 

 

How Finding Kukan Was Found

 

By Liberty Peralta

 

Finding Kukan makes its Hawai‘i broadcast debut, Thursday, June 28 at 9 pm. The documentary tells the story of Li Ling-Ai, a female film producer from Hawai‘i who was uncredited for her work on an Oscar-winning documentary about World War II in China called Kukan. A full copy of Kukan has long been missing, while Ling-Ai’s story has gone untold for decades. Both mysteries are unraveled over a seven-year journey on Finding Kukan.

 

The producer and director of Finding Kukan, Robin Lung, spoke with us by phone about the film.

 

Robin Lung
Robin Lung, producer and director of Finding Kukan

 

PBS Hawaiʻi: How did you come across Li Ling-Ai’s story?

Robin Lung: I read Li Ling-Ai’s memoir, Life is for a Long Time, about her physician parents in early 20th century Hawai‘i. I was searching for a Chinese American woman to profile, and I was really interested in the ’30s and ’40s, so I was researching women of that era. There was a biography of Li Ling-Ai on the book’s jacket flap that said that she had worked on this film Kukan that had won an Academy Award. I had never heard of Kukan or Li Ling-Ai before I read her memoir, so that really piqued my interest.

 

How did you come across her memoir?

I had been reading these vintage mystery novels that a friend of mine from New York sent me. They’re written by Juanita Sheridan, and they feature a Chinese American female detective named Lily Wu who solved crime in New York City and Hawai‘i. In an interview, Juanita Sheridan said that she based Lily Wu on some real life friends of hers from Hawai‘i; she had lived in Hawai‘i in the 1930s. That really caught my attention because Lily Wu is not your stereotypical shy, submissive Asian woman. She’s really smart, she’s really independent and audacious. This detective captured my imagination, and I wanted to find out who the real-life woman she was based on might be. I did a lot of research and that’s how I came across Li Ling-Ai’s memoir.

 

If the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences [which oversees the Oscars] didn’t have a copy of Kukan, how many other Oscar-winning films did they not have?

Kukan is the only Oscar-winning documentary that the Academy didn’t have a copy of. It was very unusual for them not to have a copy of this documentary because they actively collect their Oscar-winning films. That was another question that I wanted to explore in my film: Why did it get lost? We structured it as a detective story on purpose because we couldn’t find definitive answers for a lot of the questions that I asked. Shirley Thompson, who acted as the editor on the film, worked closely with me for five years. The film that I wanted to make is not the film that we ended up with, and that was because circumstances prevented me from having my ideal world. [laughs]

 

What did that ideal story look like?

The story of Li Ling-Ai and her filmmaking partner Rey Scott, and how they made Kukan, is like this Cinderella story. Two novices with no experience in filmmaking, on a whim, decide to make this film about what’s happening in China, and it ends up winning an Academy Award and is shown at the White House for President Roosevelt. My ideal story in my head was that I was going to find out every single detail about this story, and I was going to present it as a very conventional historical documentary, much like the Ken Burns documentaries.

 

Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott in front of the Clay Theater for the San Francisco premiere of Kukan, 1941

 

You had to let go of what you wanted this to look like and let it transform into something else. What was the takeaway for you in doing that?
You’re not in control of your material a lot of the time. You have to work with what you have and what you get. That challenge in how to make something with the limited palette of material you have is what sparks new creativity. That’s the fun part of filmmaking.

 

I also learned so much about how history is told and who gets to tell history. It’s activated me to preserve our own local history because I see that there’s this master narrative that comes from people in power. Our island stories are vulnerable to disappearing over time because the powers-that-be are not working hard to ensure that those stories get carried forward. If we don’t tell our own stories, and we don’t work hard to preserve the material that can tell those stories, then no one else will.

 

Perhaps there’s someone reading this who might not identify as a storyteller, but may be motivated to help preserve our stories. What can they do?

I came across this story after Li Ling-Ai and Rey Scott had passed away. As I tried to interview people, a lot of times I would connect with them too late; they would have just passed away right before I met them. I think that’s a very common problem that we all face, that we don’t think to ask questions of our elders until it’s too late. There are so many rich stories in everybody’s family.

Also, the questions that are important historically are sometimes things that older people don’t want to talk about. They’re tough times, and those are stories that we need to learn lessons from. Finding Kukan is a bittersweet film because I do find out amazing things, but there are certain things that I’ll never be able to know.

What I would hope that people will do after seeing this film is that they sit down and talk with their elders. Take out an iPhone or a tape recorder and have it rolling when they ask, “What did you do in the war?” or “Why did we move to Hawai‘i?” Those basic questions that they want to know more about and really want to get the answers to.

_____
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

 

Our next Indie Lens Pop-Up explores a changing agricultural landscape

 

Please join us for our free Indie Lens Pop-Up screening of the following documentary, ahead of its broadcast debut on Independent Lens:

 

Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky / By Laura Dunn
Tuesday, April 17, 2018, 5:30-8:00 pm
VENUE CHANGE: Impact Hub Honolulu, 1050 Queen Street, Honolulu

 

Look & See: Wendell Berry’s Kentucky is a portrait of the changing landscapes and shifting values of rural America in the era of industrial agriculture, as seen through the mind’s eye of award-winning writer and farmer Wendell Berry, back home in his native Henry County, Kentucky.

 

We hope you’ll stay after the screening for an informal audience discussion. How has agriculture shaped our way of life in Hawai‘i – and how is that way of life changing?

 

Important Note: Because of our studio preparations for the April 19 live broadcast of KĀKOU – Hawai‘i’s Town Hall, this Indie Lens Pop-Up screening will be held at Impact Hub Honolulu, at 1050 Queen Street in Kaka‘ako. See the graphic below for nearby parking options.

 

 

 

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