HONOLULU (KHON2) – The composing, animation, and powerful storyline of Kapaemahu has earned the film a spot in the race for an Academy Award.

Get Hawaii’s latest news sent to your inbox, click here to subscribe to News 2 You, a daily newsletter.

“To know that it would make it as far as the Oscar Awards is just absolutely fantastic and phenomenal for us,” said Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, the director, producer, and narrator of Kapaemahu.

The movie is breaking into the Oscars scene, making history as the first Hawaiian film to clear the shortlist for best animated short film.

“It speaks about four legendary healers. They were real people that became legendary, because of the healing knowledge and skill they brought with them. They just so happened to be four individuals who are known to be mahu. They were embraced and loved by the people. So what it tells us is the kanaka culture has room and a place of understanding.”

Kapaemahu is narrated by Kumu Hina, a Na Hoku Hanohano Award winning cultural leader.

“It was critical to me to ensure that the voice was going to reflect a voice, not the voice, but a voice of kanaka and who best to help narrate the story of four legendary mahu then someone who is also mahu?”

Next up, another round of voting by the Academy for an official Oscar nomination. But there’s something more meaningful to the Kapaemahu filmmakers than any award.

“The honor and the dignity and the name of my people, the kanaka, my fellow Hawaiians, and the respect of our islands is uplifted. Perhaps maybe just one person at a time would be helped or supported or would enrich somebody else’s life. That to me means more than any award that we could ever receive.”

Film critics are already calling Kapaemahu a front runner for the Oscars. The 93rd Academy Awards is slated for April 25.

For a link to watch Kapaemahu, click here.