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Cane Fire. 2020. USA. Directed by Anthony Banua-Simon. New York premiere. 90 min.
Countless productions have taken place in Kauaʿi since Hollywood’s Golden Age, many casting residents as extras and each shaping an exoticized popular imagination of the Hawaiian island. In a far-reaching essay-film, Anthony Banua-Simon recovers histories of sugar plantation–era extraction, exploitation, and suppressed labor movements that cinematic representations have obscured by design. Nimbly composed from the filmmaker’s intergenerational family archive, contemporary interviews, Hollywood dramas, and a dizzying range of found footage, Cane Fire is a spirited, urgent counter-narrative. Reflecting on present-day visual culture, economic marginalization, and sovereignty activism on the island, the film above all exudes the power of working class and native Hawaiians telling their own stories of resilience and resistance. Best Feature Documentary Prize, Indie Memphis Film Festival
The film is accompanied by a conversation with director Anthony Banua-Simon, cowriter and coproducer Michael Vass, writer and scholar Jeff Chang, and filmmaker Ciara Lacy, moderated by Taylour Chang, curator at the Honolulu Museum of Art.
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