HoMA is spotlighting the work of artists in our community and beyond during these challenging times. We’ve asked filmmaker ʻĀina Paikai to share what has been inspiring his creativity during shelter-in-place and social distancing.

ʻĀina Paikai is a native filmmaker (Kanaka Maoli) from Waiau, Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi.  He has worked on several award winning nationally televised documentary films, including the ʻŌiwiTV productions Nā Loea (2014), Mele Murals (2016), and Moananuiākea: One Ocean, One People, One Canoe (2018).  A former Sundance Native Labs Fellow, Paikai is the screenwriter and lead actor in the award-winning short-film, Down on the Sidewalk in Waikīkī (2019), which was inspired by the life and words of Hawaiʻi poet Wayne Kaumualii Westlake.  His latest is Hawaiian Soul (2020), a drama that celebrates the music and message of George Helm Jr., the famed Hawaiian activist that helped to stop the target bombing’s on the island of Kahoʻolawe. 

What is inspiring you as an artist these days?   

Life in my bubble is straight ʻohana.  Beautiful, frustrating, bliss and pure exhaustion.  The surrounding circumstances are so sad, yet I canʻt help but feel blessed to have the closeness of family and this forced order to slow down and be together.  Indeed, my creative energy, productivity and income have slowed down as well, however it’s my family that fuelʻs me and inspires me at the moment.  

As an artist in film, I’m also inspired by the storytellers.  While we’re all in closed quarters, the world has turned to the artists, and although our industry is suffering in ways, our work of creating, educating, and entertaining is impacting lives on a daily basis.  I’m digesting a lot more children’s programming these days and one piece of art and story I really enjoy is Peter Gossage’s A Maui te Tipua — Maui the Enchanted; 6 different tales of the demi-god Maui based in Aotearoa.  

That being said, our film work can and needs to be put on hold.  I’m especially proud and inspired by Hawai’i’s farmers and fishermen, who have been fighting to feed us for a long time.  They truly embody our traditional interdependent native Hawaiian lifestyle.  These essential workers, risking their health so that we can eat, breathe, and live, are what’s really inspiring.

What current projects are you working on? 

Our latest project is titled Hawaiian Soul, inspired by the Hawaiian musician and activist, George Helm, who helped stop the target bombings on the island of Kahoʻolawe.  For more information and to make a tax deductible donation, visit our website: https://fiscal.ifp.org/project.cfm/2181/Hawaiian-Soul/

George Helm carrying a sprouted coconut to the island of Kahoʻolawe.  A symbol of rebirth and healing to the land and its people.  Photo courtesy of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana.

George Helm carrying a sprouted coconut to the island of Kahoʻolawe.  A symbol of rebirth and healing to the land and its people.  Photo courtesy of the Protect Kahoʻolawe ʻOhana.

 

Director ʻĀina Paikai works with Lead Actor Kolea Fukumitsu, with the blocking of the upcoming scene. Photo Credit: Evan Loney

Director ʻĀina Paikai works with Lead Actor Kolea Fukumitsu, with the blocking of the upcoming scene. Photo Credit: Evan Loney

 

– Taylour Chang, Curator of Film and Performance

5.11.2020