HONOLULU — “Rise of the Wahine: Champions of Title IX” is a historical sports documentary chronicling the birth of the first Rainbow Wahine volleyball team during a time of great change for women’s equality. The film began production in 2012 and will be released on demand via digital streaming platforms on Sept. 5.
The 2018 premiere, presented by HawaiianMiles, will be held on Sept. 5 at the historic Hawaii Theater in Downtown Honolulu. Tickets to the premiere are available online at riseofthewahinefilm.com for $18 starting on Aug. 16. Hawaiian Airlines is a sponsor of the film and will be donating all proceeds from the premiere event to the Patsy T. Mink Foundation, an organization that supports educational access, opportunity and equity for low-income women and educational enrichment for children.
Set in the 1970s, “Rise of the Wahine” is the mostly untold story of a group of women from Hawaii who battled women’s inequality issues, leading up to and after the passing of Title IX. These women included Mink, co-author of Title IX, and the University of Hawaii’s first Women’s Athletic Director, Dr. Donnis Thompson.
Hawaii born filmmaker Dean Kaneshiro, who also served as the director, writer and producer, was the catalyst for the project.
“I grew up in Honolulu, and this incredible story took place in my own backyard. I had no idea. From this tiny island came women who played a significant role in unlocking the door of equality in female athletics and then busting it open for generations to come. They just wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer,” Kaneshiro said.
Co-producer Ryan Kalei Tsuji was born and raised in Hilo and worked with the UH Rainbow Wahine volleyball team as a coach under Dave Shoji for eight seasons. He then began his broadcasting carrier as a commentator covering UH athletics.
“This volleyball team is one of the most beloved sports teams in Hawaiian history,” Tsuji says. “I had no idea that 40 years ago the players had to make so many sacrifices to play — just because they were women.”
“Rise of the Wahine” is produced by Tiffany Taylor, features music composed by Paulette Wooten, and narrated by Hollywood actress and former Hawaii resident Sarah Wayne Callies.