From the past to today’s silver screen

Keo Woolford shares his experiences of growing up in Hawaii and learning hula in “The Haumana.”

This week, the production is part of the Hawaii International Film Festival.

 “I am very, very happy with the turn out of the film,” said Woolford, the film’s director and writer. “I worked my butt off  and I kept tweaking and tweaking to make sure the film got the best results.”

The film showed Thursday at Waimea Theater, and will be on the screen again 6:30 p.m. Saturday at the St. Regis Hotel Princeville.

It was voted the best feature in this year’s HIFF.

“It was the icing on the cake, more than anything. The reaction to the crowd from the premiere made it perfect,” Woolford said. “It was a huge prize to get the award.”

The independently produced film was shot entirely on Oahu and features an all-Hawaii cast, including Kelly Hu and Marlene Sai.  

“It is thoroughly entertaining, sheds light on our culture, and is a vehicle in which to share our Aloha spirit with the rest of the world,” according to a press release.

The storyline of the film goes like this: Jonny Kealoha (Tui Asau) is the charismatic host of The Polynesian Odyssey, a cheesy Waikiki luau show. To everyone’s surprise, he is appointed as the unlikely successor to a high school boy’s hula class when his former Kumu Hula (master hula teacher), Auntie Margaret (Marlene Sai) passes away.

“The journey follows Jonny, as he becomes just as much the student through the demands of leading the reluctant boys to a significant cultural event. Along the way, he rediscovers the sanctity of the culture he had previously abandoned,” a release said.

For Woolford, it was gratifying to draw from his past and follow his passion of film making..

“This story is based on my life, growing up in Hawaii learning hula,” he said.

Woolford has more film projects in the works, but this one is special.

“I feel so blessed and grateful to be able to share this film and experience with a culture I feel so proud to be apart off,” he said.


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