Film fest shares history, culture

  • Photo courtesy Stephanie Castillo

    Kauai filmmaker and director Stephanie Castillo works in Paris with cameraman Igor Andrevski in this 2015 photo.

Celebrating the island’s diverse creative industries with food, fiction, fashion, film and fun, the Philippine Cultural Center presents the Garden Island Film Festival during Creative Industries Month on Kauai.

All film screenings are free and open to the public thanks to a grant from the County of Kauai and locations partners, hosts and volunteers. Show times start about 6:30 p.m.

For the second year Stephanie Castillo, a Kauai filmmaker and director based in Brooklyn, will be presenting her films that relate to Filipino culture and history on the Garden Isle.

“My film documents my mother and my father,” Castillo said. “Their 30-some grandkids can watch it and know their grandparents. It’s really worthwhile doing something like that for your family.”

Tonight, two of her 30-minute documentaries will be screening at Kauai Philippine Cultural Center. “Remember the Boys” is her 2007 film about a Kekaha man who went to World War II, along with 250 Hawaii teenagers, to help General Douglas MacArthur take the Philippines. It’s a touching story about the camaraderie of these teenagers as they grew up and stayed together.

“I don’t want their story to be forgotten,” Castillo said. “So I decided to do the film about them to help them be remembered.”

The second film showing tonight, “Strange Land: My Mother’s War Bride Story,” is about her mom coming to America and marrying a second-generation Filipino from Kapahi, Kauai.

“It’s a story of bringing mom back from the Philippines after the war and starting our family here in Hawaii and the cultural differences that she had to surmount,” Castillo said.

A third film, scheduled Saturday, “An Untold Triumph: The Story of the 1st &2nd Filipino Infantry Regiments, U.S. Army,” honors soldiers who fought in World War II when 7,000 Filipino Americans volunteered their service to help liberate their homeland from Japanese occupation.

“It’s specifically the story of the first and second Filipino regiments that were formed by the U.S. Army and were made up of Filipinos in the U.S. — immigrants, citizens and sons of immigrants,” Castillo said. “That one has been shown nationally on PBS in primetime for four straight years.”

In this 56-minute film, she worked with Noel Izon, who captures stories through the voices of the veterans themselves — only half of whom are still alive today — and delivers touching personal accounts of the men’s contributions and sacrifices during the war. After the showing, there will be a 20-minute ceremony and presentation given by Castillo.

“I like to say a little bit of my family’s story and history through all three of those films,” she said.

On May 12, Kauai Community College’s School of Art will also be showcasing its student films in the new music building across from the cafeteria at 1 p.m. and at 2:30 p.m.

Then on May 16 at 6:30 p.m., Poipu’s Kukui’ula Shopping Village Palms Courts will be showing more cultural documentaries. The evening starts with “Voices Behind Barbed Ware: Stories of Oahu, Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii,” a 20-minute film directed by Curtis Hanson and Michael Apted, and ends with the 94-minute “Picture Bride.”

The second film, “Gannenmono: Celebrating 150 Years of Japanese Immigration to Hawaii,” tells of the first-year men who arrived in Hawaii from Yokohama in 1868. They included 150 people from Japan of diverse backgrounds such as urban dwellers, artists, cooks, and displaced samurai.

The last showing on May 25 also takes place at the community college’s new art building. “Keahualaka, A Door to Hawaiian Spirituality,” is a 45-minute hula documentary produced jointly by Ka‘Imi Institute (with Savitri Kumaran as producer) and Serge Marcil/4D Media..

“Record your family stories whichever way you can, otherwise they will be lost to the next generation,” Castillo added. “Whether it’s getting a videocamera and videotaping grandma or taking pictures or writing out the stories, that’s the only way our stories are going to survive, is if somebody in the family documents them.”


John Steinhorst, reporter, can be reached at 245-0435 or


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