On Tuesday, Maui Mayor Mike Victorino in a press conference revealed that Friday, Jan. 29, the premier day of the Netflix movie “Finding ‘Ohana,” will be “Finding ‘Ohana” Day to honor the movie and what it stands for.
The movie, based on Hawai‘i’s cultural and ‘ohana values featuring local actors, is the first movie of its kind. It was filmed on O‘ahu at the beginning of last year.
Maui resident and actor Branscombe Richmond received the proclamation from Victorino two days ago. In a phone interview with The Garden Island on Thursday, Richmond expressed his gratitude for the recognition.
“I felt honored because that state of Hawai‘i is all the counties,” Richmond said. “Sometimes our counties don’t get recognized. I think it’s important. Question, If you want to be an actor or actress, does everybody need to go to LA or New York? No. My heart beats with this movie. It is the first time that a big business has wrapped around our culture. This is a new-age Netflix. They could have done it on other cultures.
“We have stories here. This is the first one to portray Hawai‘i correctly. There are going to be a lot of people behind this movie, like Hawaiians and Polynesians. I’m lucky I’m blessed to be a part of something really great and important, and it will live for a long time,” Richmond said.
The film “Finding ‘Ohana” follows a modern Hawaiian family re-discovering the true meaning of ‘ohana and finding strength in the ancient ways that have been long since forgotten. Summer in rural O‘ahu takes an exciting turn for two Brooklyn-raised Hawaiian siblings when a journal pointing to long-lost treasure sets them on an epic adventure with new friends/family members and leads them to reconnect with aspects of their forgotten Hawaiian heritage.
Maui’s celebrating the making of the Netflix film “Finding ‘Ohana” reinforces the importance of family, ‘ohana in Hawai‘i.
According to BR Productions, the Hawaiian culture today is a blend of ethnic influences and unique traditions. Part of what makes the islands of Hawai‘i so special is the melting pot of many cultures and the adaptation of those values to create a vibrant community that is unique to the islands. “‘Ohana” is the aloha state word for the family, but also for a strong nucleus of extended family and friends. The idea is to create a bond of caring between a group of people that not only enriches their own lives but enriches the lives of the network of other people around them.
Maui’s Finding ‘Ohana Day is a day to celebrate the impact of the film and to commemorate the enduring value of ‘ohana as the key to living a full experience. There are many different types of ‘ohana, and those not born into the family can also be a part of it.
“This should be a day of reflection and of reaching out to friends and family to make them aware that they are appreciated and loved. Engaging in all kinds of family activities together throughout the day is encouraged, and watching the film Netflix ‘Finding ‘Ohana’ together as a family,” Richmond said.
Richmond said it is important to recognize other films made in Hawai‘i, and he wishes not to discredit their work. However, according to Richmond, this Netflix movie will heal the world during a time of uncertainty.
“I’m not taking anything away from the other stories shot in Hawai‘i or around Hawai‘i because this story is different,” Richmond said. “It’s about finding ‘ohana because at this time we are rebuilding as human beings because of COVID -19 and everything. It’s an important movie when it comes to humanity. Here is a native family from Hawai‘i that you get to see inside how they speak and what their culture is and it’s intertwined with the storyline that will touch everyone around the world,” Richmond said. “It will be shown in 30 different languages and in 139 countries.
Richmond encourages all young actors to live by principles his father Leo Richmond taught him.
“Encourage them — If you get a chance to be a background actor, enjoy the moment it all in, and pay attention,” Richmond said. It takes a lot of people to do many jobs to create cinema. If you want to be an actor, musician or artist you have a chance to do that every day. I got a shot of becoming a stunt man. I took advantage of it. And every performer has a bag of tricks they keep in the back of their brain. When opportunity presents itself, you are able to try something from that bag. If the director said tone it down, it’s a crazy idea. Well, being an actor is 90% being rejected.
“So every time you get up to swing, swing away. You will eventually hit the ball out of the park. My father taught me about timing, chance, good fortune, persistence and talent.”
Richmond’s said his father said when the time comes, you will have to take a chance on yourself. Persistence is what is going to keep you on the road to do what you do. There are talented people out there who never take a chance on themselves.
“I encourage everybody to watch family films with their family,” Richmond said.
“Here is a family film you get to see with an indigenous Hawaiian family. You will be able to understand this film to be close to them. Everybody has a papa, tutu, uncle and mom. This ‘ohana film will have people asking themselves ‘how do we all live in a positive space together?’”
Although Richmond is from Maui, he said his wife’s ‘ohana is rooted on Kaua‘i, and he would love to do more films on the ‘aina.
“Hi aunty Wini of Anahola, and aloha to all the kanakas in Anahola,” Richmond said. ” Of course, I would love to do more films on Kaua‘i. I did three films on Kaua‘i. I was a very young actor in 1974 — I just jumped off Wailua bridge when there was a sign that said no jump. We stayed at the old Coco Palms Hotel. We use to go right there on the beach across and play volleyball and play music all over the hotels there. My wife’s family is there. I love Kaua‘i.”
To watch the video of the event with Victorino and Richmond, go to vimeo.com/502130204.