The Final Film in the Award-Winning Hula Trilogy

TOKYO HULA

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“A reverent exploration of the intersection between culture and commerce.”

– Doc Edge Film Festival

Winner Best Moana Whārahi – Films from the Pacific, Doc Edge 2020

Audience Choice Award – Tokyo Lift Off Film Festival 2020

Nominated for Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature – Guam International Film Festival 2020

Nominated for Best Documentary Feature - Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival 2020

Winner Best Feature Film – Made in Hawaiʻi Film Festival 2021

Winner Outspoken Voices Award – Outer Doc Film Festival 2021

TOKYO HULA
Play Video

TOKYO HULA explores the phenomenal popularity

of the hula dance in Japan from both Native Hawaiian

and Japanese perspectives.

SYNOPSIS

Today it is estimated there are nearly 2 million people dancing hula in Japan – a figure greater than the entire population of Hawaiʻi.  With more people dancing hula in Japan than in Hawaiʻi where the native art was born, this explosive growth has created a multi-million dollar industry based on culture as commodity.  But what motivates Japanese students and teachers to dance hula and how is it translated into a foreign culture?  How do Native Hawaiians participate in this cross-cultural exchange?

Many Hawaiian master hula teachers, or kumu hula, have found it difficult to sustain their hula schools in Hawaiʻi.  The same is true for many musical artists, cultural experts, and performers who must often work day jobs to pursue their passions and supplement their income on an island home many would consider paradise – but where the cost of living only continues to rise.   Many have discovered that there are more opportunities across the Pacific Ocean in Japan where a hula boom continues to grow – and pay the bills.

In TOKYO HULA, an examination of tourism, economics, and a love for all things Hawaiian fueling this cultural phenomenon is revealed by focusing on the personal stories of Japanese sensei who have started their own schools and Hawaiian kumu hula who are now living and teaching in Japan.  Guided by curiosity and infused with humor, the documentary follows teachers and students both in and outside of hula classes and competitions to better understand their daily lives, struggles, and challenges in practicing a cultural art form in a foreign host country. 

By juxtaposing the two main subjects – Japanese sensei Seiko Okamoto who is from Japan but trained by the late revered Hawaiian Kumu Hula Aloha Dalire and Hawaiian Kumu Hula Lōpaka Igarta-DeVera who was entrusted by Kumu Hula Sonny Ching to move to Japan to open a branch of their school, the film illuminates how the hula has become both big business as well as an evolving global tradition that continues to flourish in Japan. 

FEATURING

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KUMU HULA

ALOHA DALIRE

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KUMU HULA

SONNY CHING

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LEHUA HULA 

KAWAIKAPUOKALANI HEWETT

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KUMU HULA LŌPAKA

IGARTA-DEVERA

and the dancers of

Hālau Nā Mamo O Pu'uanahulu 'Iapana

KUMU HULA

SIEKO OKAMOTO

and the dancers of

Nā Mamo O Kaleinani

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KUMU HULA

KU'ULEINANI

HASHIMOTO

SCREENINGS

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DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival

Online July 15-25, 2021

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Houston Asian American Pacific Islander Film Festival

Online June 3-13, 2021

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Outer Doc Festival

Online May 2, 2021

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Made in Hawaiʻi

Film Festival

Online & in-person March 25-28, 2021

March 28 @ 5pm, The Palace Theater, Hilo, HI 

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Seattle Asian American Film Festival

Online March 4-7, 2021

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Guam International Film Festival (Nominated for Grand Jury for Best Documentary Feature)

Online November 15, 2020 & Broadcast on PBS Guam

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Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival

Online November 5-15, 2020

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Wairoa Māori Film Festival

October 26, 2020 at 3pm

The Gaiety Theatre, Wairoa, NZ

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Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival

Online October 22-25, 2020

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CAAMFest Forward

Online October 14-18, 2020

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Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival

Online

June 13, 2020 at 11:00 am

(followed by Q&A on the Doc Edge Facebook page)

June 19, 2020 at 5:00 pm

June 30, 2020 at 7:00 pm

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Tokyo Lift Off

Film Festival

Online June 8 - 14, 2020

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DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon

March 10, 2020 at 6:30 pm

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HIFF HANA HOU

Screening at the Waimea Film Festival (Kauaʻi)

February 15, 2020 at 4:15 pm

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FIFO TAHITI - Festival International du Film Documentaire Oceanien

February 1-9, 2020 at 4:15 pm

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HIFF

Hawai‘i International

Film Festival 

November 11, 2019 at 6:15 pm (Regal Dole Cannery)

November 17, 2019 at 6:00 pm (Regal Dole Cannery)

November 21, 2019 at 7:00 pm (Maui Arts & Cultural Center)