- The Cultural Animation Film Festival
The Cultural Animation Film Festival (caff) was a three-day-long showcase of animated short films predicated on culture-based artistic expression. This year’s festival took place at the Honolulu Museum of Art’s Doris Duke Theatre from Friday, 18 May to Sunday, 20 May 2018. caff’s programming consisted of three days of screenings, two panel discussions, and opportunities to interact with companies and with the festival’s organizers. The companies and organizations present included Mana Comics, Keiki Coding, Bess Press, and Twiddle Productions. Currently in its second year, caff is a nascent forum for creative expressions of cultural identity and practices in animation.
The films selected for the festival draw from elements of Hawaiian/Kanaka Māoli, Chamorro, Māori, Chinese, Indian, and First Nations/Native American cultures. They ranged in length, visual style, subject matter, and filmmakers age and professional status. The films’ diverse themes and origins marked the 2018 festival as an event that centered and celebrated community and culture.
The festival’s grassroots organization engendered a lively, collaborative atmosphere. Some of the films and trailers screened at the festival were created by local filmmakers, including Kanaka Māoli. Especially exciting was the inclusion of films by youth directors Penelope O, Nalia W, and Phoenix Maimiti Valentine, who are some of the youngest filmmakers to exhibit at caff. The first two films, made in collaboration with the Queen Ka‘ahumanu School Tink Think Tank Tech Team, concern the resolution of interpersonal aggression at school and an account of the director’s daily routine, respectively, and the third film focuses on the water cycle of the Hawaiian ahupua‘a. The young film-makers’ creative use of mixed media aptly expresses their understandings of the world around them. Hopefully their submissions will inspire more youth to submit their creations to caff in the future.
The festival’s programming began with a chant by Pacific Voices, a youth organization from Kokua Kalihi Valley dedicated to teaching and performing Micronesian chanting. The opening chants also included a Hawaiian ‘oli, [End Page 586] offered by Kahu Loko‘ulu Joseph Jr Quintero of the Hawaiian Church of Hawai‘i Nei. After the welcoming protocol, a screening was followed by a series of panel discussions.
The first panel was titled Silent Voices: Stories That Must Be Heard in Cultural Films, Animation, and Video Games, and the panelists included Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Laura Margulies, and Jenny Fraser. Wong-Kalu, also known as Kumu Hina, is a Kanaka Maoli kumu (knowledge keeper), teacher, and activist. In addition to her educational work, she advises the O‘ahu Island Burial Council. Margulies is a professional designer and colorist who has worked on numerous television shows and has taught at many schools, including the University of Hawai‘i. Fraser is an award-winning Murri artist from the Yugambeh Country in the Bundjalung Nation. In addition to her educational and activist work, she is an artist. These panelists offered complementary perspectives on the current state of and potential futures for indigenous-created and culture-based animation. Having indigenous women on this panel was essential, as indigenous people, particularly women, face significant institutional barriers in the arts.
The second panel, titled Inspiration Not Perspiration: Fiscal Responsibility in Cultural Films, Animation and Video Games, featured panelists Ty Robinson and Kenneth Paulino Jr and moderator Leanne Ka‘iulani Ferrer. Robinson is a financial adviser, film producer, and video-game producer. Paulino produces digital applications and music to facilitate learning about Guam. Ferrer is a filmmaker and the executive director for Pacific Islanders in Communications. This panel’s content seemed to differ considerably from that of the previous panel, as it focused on granular financial matters. However, such discussions are essential, particularly when matters of art and resource allocation are involved.
The second day of caff featured film screenings and a panel discussion concerning financial ethics in the context of cultural animation, movies, and video games. The third day of the festival was Doris Duke Theater...