HoMA is spotlighting the work of artists in our community and beyond during these challenging times. The Doris Duke Theatre team asked filmmaker Heather Haunani Giugni of ʻUluʻulu archives to share what has been inspiring her creativity during shelter-in-place and social distancing.
Doris Duke Theatre: Heather, tell us a bit about yourself.
Heather: First a look through the rear view mirror: I was born on Oʻahu in the month of May when Hawaiʻi was still a Territory. My parents were raised on the Pearl City Peninsula originally known as Mānana on the shores of beautiful Puʻuloa. On my maternal side, my English grandfather was a bookkeeper at the Oahu Sugar Company located in Waipahu, while my Hawaiian-German grandmother taught at August Ahrens and later Pearl City Elementary. On my paternal side, my grandfather was a second-generation Italian immigrant from Napa Valley who came to Hawaiʻi after he saw an ad in the paper that promised work at a new shipyard called Pearl Harbor.
He met and married a full-blooded Hawaiian who became the principal at Pearl City Elementary and whose father was the Judge of the Ewa District. I grew up in a politically motivated family dedicated to the newly empowered Democratic Party of Hawaiʻi.
As time went on, I wanted to be an Artist (honored as one of the Artists of Hawaiʻi at the Honolulu Academy of Arts in the early 80s) and ended up with a Journalism degree which led to my passion for telling stories with moving pictures, and eventually helping to preserve them too.
In the world of broadcast, I was a primary producer for the Merrie Monarch Festival broadcast from 2009 – 2011. Since 2006 I have produced the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest with my Rock Salt Media partner Renea Veneri Stewart. We also produce the award-winning Hawaiʻi-based series Family Ingredients about family, food and travel which airs nationally on PBS. Other works include Under A Jarvis Moon with Noelle Kahanu, One Voice with Pacific Islanders in Communications and director Lisette Flanary, and a documentary on the late Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, to name a few. I was a founding member of Pacific Islanders in Communications and ʻUluʻulu, Hawaiʻiʻs official moving image archive and a former board member of the Bishop Museum. I also believe in public service and served as a Representative in the State Legislature in 2012.
DDT: What’s inspiring you as an artist these days?
- NATURE: It feels more vibrant, clear, beautiful and with the volume turned up. If only we could come out of this experience listening to what Nature said during this time… and make the change to be better partners with our Planet.
- TECHNOLOGY: Leaning into technology during this pandemic period has opened up new ways of learning and communicating that had otherwise not been so enthusiastically embraced. Whether itʻs on-line grocery shopping, distant learning, telemedicine, google-hangouts, team meetings, zoom birthday parties, Netflix watch parties or pau hana meet-ups—all of it has been quite remarkable (and yet still no replacement for the human touch).
- MAʻOWN FARM: expanding on my modest backyard vegetable garden. Beets, Swiss Chard, Kale (three different kinds), Tomatoes, Lettuce (variety), Beans, Corn, Carrots, Squash, Pineapple. All in different stages from germination to last chance. My go-to daily greens: beets, kale, swiss chard, lettuce. It’s a small, manageable vegetable garden—some in-ground stuff, otherwise filling any pot I find and putting a seed in it! Also in my yard: Coconut, Papaya, Fig, Mango trees and Sugar Cane. Missing: Chickens.
DDT: And what are you currently watching?
My Brilliant Friend
Anything on TCM in Black n White
Mahalo, Heather! Find more about ʻUluʻulu, the Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi here. ʻUluʻulu aims to perpetuate and share the rich moving image heritage of Hawaiʻi through the preservation of film and videotape related to the history and culture of Native Hawaiians and the people of Hawaiʻi.
– Taylour Chang, Curator of Film and Performance