What a Night: Puamana Screening Recap

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It’s been a day since the big night at HIFF and it was fabulous! Puamana was shown to a packed house. Many in the audience were related to each other and the Farden ʻohana, which made it an intimate showing.  The audience was welcomed by Chuck Boller, HIFF executive director, who introduced the film which was preceded by a Farden familial chant and song by the family.

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The screening of the full documentary was followed by raw footage not included in the film.  This was special because the scene included Aunty Irmgard and Uncle Charles K.L. Davis candidly talking about lūʻau songs and singing them.  The newly preserved work print and camera negative were shown side by side with the audio reel synced to the images; ʻUluʻulu was able to showcase the important work that we do. When the audio reel stopped the images kept going and the crowd finished the song “One Little Dream of You” and it was chicken skin.

The screening was followed by a panel discussion moderated by Heather Giugni (Juniroa Productions) who acknowledged Chris Lee, ʻUluʻuluʻs principal investigator and director of ACM system, and introduced panelists Meleanna Aluli Meyer (the film maker), Kale Hannahs (from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs who sponsored the digitization of the film) and Janel Quirante (head digital archivist at ʻUluʻulu). Below are some highlights from the panel, mahalo everyone for making this a special night!

First Meleanna was asked if anything prepared her for making the film?  She responded by saying nothing prepared her for making the film and that she knew about Les Blank (the director of the film), liked his work, and said to herself, “I’m going to make a film about Auntie.” When she met Les Blank in Honolulu she approached him about the project without knowing him and it happened.  She also said that this was her way of giving back to the family because her side of the family couldn’t play music so she made the film to contribute.  Another chicken skin moment was when Meleanna noted that she made the film for posterity because “our stories are important” and “legacy is important we all have stories.”

Next Kale spoke about why archiving the community and films like Puamana are important.  He talked about growing up not playing Hawaiian music but listening to it. And then in 7th grade Makaha Sons played in his school’s gym and that was the first time Hawaiian music was visible to him.  He noted that making music and culture visible is why films like Puamana are important and that through music you can see the comradeship and collaboration that exists between family.

Heather then told the story of how the archive came to be.  She said that for years librarians would ask her for copies of her programs and she never understood why but also directors wanted a safe place to store their material and that the archive “is the dream of many people librarians and film makers” and it’s the preservation of community.

Next Janel spoke about the technical aspects of archiving the film.  She began by acknowledging the team of staff and volunteers like Ashley Hartwell, Peter Kowen, Koa Luke and Robbie Omura who made the archiving and preservation possible.  She then explained that the screening contained four archival elements including field recordings and work prints to show the side by side comparison of the different types of production elements that go into creating a finished film

The Farden ʻOhana played the song “Puamana” and were joined by audience members doing hula to the song to bid the night aloha.

See more photos of the night by clicking here.

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