‘Keepers of the Flame’ keeps Hawaiian legacies burning I Filmmakers show documentary at Hanalei School

Husband and wife team Eddie Kamae and Myrna Kamae have been producing Hawaiian Legacy documentaries since the late 1980s, showing them at community centers, schools, and the annual Hawai‘i International Film Festival.

Their latest documentary, “Keepers of the Flame,” will be shown in a presentation at the Hanalei School cafeteria Tuesday, starting with a performance by Hanalei School ‘Ukulele Kids at 6 p.m. The documentary will follow at 6:30 p.m.

“Keepers of the Flame” chronicles the lives of three women, Kawena Pukui, Edith Kanaka‘ole and ‘Iolani Luahine, who were influential with the Hawaiian culture, and served as inspiration to Eddie Kamae, he said.

“All the women were from the Big Island, and all played an important part in the culture,” he said.

“‘Iolani started the course of finding the materials I needed to get into Hawaiian music,” Eddie Kamae noted.

Eddie Kamae for several years was a member of the band Sons of Hawaii, with legendary singer and guitar player Gabby Pahinui. That career led him to making films.

His first documentary “Li‘a: The Legacy of a Hawaiian Man,” premiered in Honolulu in 1988, and has been named one of the 10 best documentaries shown during the first 10 years of the Hawai‘i International Film Festival.

Since then, the two have completed a total of eight documentaries for the Hawaiian Legacy Series.

For “Keepers of the Flame,” Eddie Kamae talked to former students and family members of the three women, on how they were influenced by them.

“Flame” also features rare footage of Luahine dancing, archived video interviews and demonstrations with Pukui, and an in-depth interview with Kanaka‘ole from an old PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) Hawaii show, “Pau Hana Years.”

Luahine was a well-known dancer, chanter and teacher. Pukui was a historian and author who worked as a translator for the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, and preserved Hawaiian stories and poems and legends by translating them into English.

Kanaka‘ole was a teacher of Hawaiian studies at the Hawai‘i Community College in Hilo on the Big Island, and was a pioneer in ethnobotany, mythology, Polynesian history and Hawaiian oral-arts studies.

Donations and proceeds from the show at Hanalei School will go to the Hawaiian Legacy Foundation, started by the Kamaes.

“One of the main things we want to do is make sure the work we do will move on, and that the Hawaiian culture is going to be preserved,” said Myrna Kamae.

“We show the films in schools and community centers, and we always like to have music before the showing. (‘Keepers of the Flame’) really honors the legacy of these three remarkable women,” she said.

“They helped keep the Hawaiian culture alive, and knew their contributions were significant.”

 Lanaly Cabalo, lifestyle writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 237) or lcabalo@kauaipubco.com.


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