KSH haumana keep Ho‘ike tradition alive with phenomenal film, ‘‘Eleau’
When challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the annual Kamehameha Schools Hawai‘i theatrical Hōʻike performance, a handful of KSH haumāna used ingenuity and their ‘Ōiwi Edge mindset to create a hōʻike in the form of a feature film. The one-hour production will debut on multiple platforms including YouTube on April 2.
‘Eleau (period of darkness) shares the moʻolelo of Kahalaopuna, the princess of Mānoa betrothed from birth to Kauhi, a dominant chief of Kailua. After rumors of her love for another spread throughout the island, Kauhi is consumed by anger and sets out for Kahalaopuna. Together with her true love Mahana, Kahalaopuna must find a way to escape Kauhi's grasp.
The film is a KSH Senior Legacy project – a graduation requirement for high school haumāna giving them the opportunity to give back to their community through service learning projects.
Although the moʻolelo behind the film takes place on Oʻahu, the moʻokūʻauhau (genealogy) of protagonist Kahalaopuna traces back to the 'āina of Puna, Hawaiʻi. So prior to filming, the cast and crew went on a huakaʻi with KSH Performing Arts/ʻŌlelo Hawai‘i Kumu Piilani Kaawaloa who guided haumāna from the ocean to the lush hala forests of Kahalaopuna's ancestors, giving them a sense of place before beginning their storytelling journey.
The film was shot on location at King’s Landing in Keaukaha and in a haumāna’s backyard in East Hawai‘i. The cast and crew of the film consisted of nearly two dozen seniors and juniors who worked on all aspects of the production including scriptwriting, directing, mele composition, costume design, filming, editing, acting, choreography, dancing and performing the student-composed soundtrack. Many took on roles they had never done before.
“Our goal for this project was not only to bring the stories of our ancestors to life, but also to show our lāhui and community that even during these dark times, we are able to come together while separated to bring life to such a powerful and educational story,” said KSH senior Aleah Kay, who stars as Kahalaopuna. “Not only that, but we wanted to inspire our underclassmen to create their own hōʻike, as we are."
Fellow senior Jason Aiwohi-Tomlin, who plays Kahalaopuna’s betrothed, Kauhi, said in the spirit of ‘Eleau, this project was a turning point for them. And, in alignment with their campus’ ‘Ōiwi Edge identity, they had to find ways to go from what was normally an in-person performance to a platform integrating Hawaiian culture and film in a way to reach a wider audience.
“We all came from different backgrounds and everyone brought their talents to the table. It was basically us figuring out where everyone fit and how to work together,” said Aiwohi-Tomlin. “In the end, we came together, and we all learned why we had different roles. This project pushed me.”
Performing Arts Kumu Herb Mahelona KSK’85 said that the COVID-19 restrictions enabled these seniors to break out of their comfort zones and work beyond the limits of their creativity.
“This year was difficult because the work wasn’t face-to-face. It was difficult, for example, for them to come up with ideas. This project taught haumāna not only to create but to adapt,” Mahelona said. “They epitomize what it means to be student leaders.”
Get a glimpse behind the scenes of ‘Eleau in our I Mua Newsroom photo gallery. For more on the film visit https://www.eleauthefilm.com/.
This project taught haumāna not only to create but to adapt. They epitomize what it means to be student leaders.
KSH Performing Arts Kumu Herb Mahelona KSK’85