HONOLULU (KHON2) — If you are unfamiliar with Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking, then you are missing out on one of the most empowering experiences for the full spectrum of women and young girls. Led by Vera Zambonelli, HWF provides myriad opportunities for participants to learn new skills, build confidence, create new worlds and learn how to be leaders.

Hawai’i Women in Filmmaking has announced that they have selected the cast and crew for Reel Wāhine of Hawai’i, Season 4.

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Reel Wāhine is a film series that explores the untold stories of Hawai‘i’s women filmmakers. The film series is meant to celebrate the powerful and important work of the pioneering women who pave the way to help build the local industry. It also seeks to highlight the rising stars who continue to create groundbreaking work.

“We are thrilled to feature such powerful, creative and activist storytellers this season. We will feature Leanne Ka‘iulani Ferrer as the first executive producer in our series. Through funding and support of local and Pacific Islander filmmakers, Leanne Ferrer and the organization she led, Pacific Islanders in Communications, have had a massive influence in building the Hawai‘i indie film industry,” said series co-producer, Shirley Thompson.

“Likewise, seasoned filmmakers Stephanie Castillo [Sandaan: 100 years of Filipinos in America], Ann Marie Kirk [Homealani] and Jana Park Moore [My Partner, E Malama Pono Willy Boy] show a depth and breadth of experience in both documentary and narrative films,” added Thompson.

The series is co-produced by HWF’s founder and Executive Director, Vera Zambonelli. She works tirelessly to give a voice to often times marginalized filmmakers.

“We are also pleased to highlight the work of two of our brightest rising stars in our local film industry, camerawoman/editor Shaneika Aguilar and camerawoman/editor Sancia Miala Shiba Nash, who are reimagining and evolving the way we tell stories with their unique visual styles,” said Zambonelli.

According to Thompson and Zambonelli, the main emphasis of the Reel Wāhine project is to document the full story that Hawai’i filmmakers’ experiences and to provide a safe space that features the work of the hardworking women who are often overlooked in the film industry.

The season is filled with six films that will feature all women cast and crew, and each film will have its own director. For this season, Meleanna Aluli Meyer, Marlene Booth, Amber McClure, Fé Vásquez, as well as Thompson and Zambonelli will bring these stories to life.

This project provides valuable mentorship opportunities for women and young girls. It empowers those involved to learn everything from managing, creating and editing the production to distributing it.

“It just fills my heart to see the community that we have built and continue to build and how once people are part of this project, in front of the camera or behind the camera, that keeps the community of women filmmakers growing here in Hawaiʻi. We now know each other. We have worked together, and feel like we can call each other and hire each other and collaborate to make even better films,” said Thompson.

“With Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi, we ensure that the story of all these wāhine, their accomplishments and challenges, and how they overcome those challenges in their filmmaking journey don’t go untold. We ensure these stories and their contributions are not erased, ignored or undervalued but are documented, made visible and cherished now and forever,” added Zambonelli.

These are the episodes planned for season 4:

  • Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i: Stephanie Castillo directed by Marlene Booth – intern: Jessi Wong.
  • Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i: Ann Marie Kirk directed by Amber McClure – intern: Lee-Won Fulbright.
  • Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i: Jana Park Moore directed by Fé Vasquez – intern: Nataly Kosevich.
  • Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i: Leanne Ka‘iulani Ferrer directed by Vera Zambonelli – interns: Ava Nakagawa and Ka‘iulani Ferrer.
  • Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i: Shaneika Aguilar directed by Shirley Thompson – intern: Malia Adams.
  • Reel Wāhine of Hawai‘i: Sancia Miala Shiba Nash directed by Meleanna Meyer – intern: Martha Nicholas.

Giving a voice to women is crucial for developing a more inclusive film industry. Fortunately, HWF is on the ball. Each director has released a statement on their work.

“I’m very excited about being able to contribute to an already very impressive pot of stories about Hawai‘i women in filmmaking.  This project brings together multiple aspects of my life, so I feel like it must mean I’m on the right path. I’m very honored to be here,” said Amber McClure, director of episode 2.

“I envision this series to be a conduit that enhances wāhine voices especially in filmmaking which is a medium that I adore. I also want to strengthen my own voice. I work more in the marketing advertising arena of filmmaking, and it is still massively male dominated. So what an amazing opportunity to work with women and have a whole different experience of femininity consciousness and awareness,” said Fé Vásquez, director of episode 3.

“We need to be seen. We need to be fully rendered. I think that’s a really good way for me to put it, to have women embodied in their work, to be able to see who they really are instead of these little veneers of women that people think we are. We’re so much more. So, I have to say, I’m really humbled to be included,” said Meleanna Aluli Meyer, director of episode 6.

“I haven’t been an active community filmmaker in the same way since the pandemic. So this is a chance for me to contribute and re-enter. That’s one of the big whys for me. I’m also working on my own film, an autobiographical portrait about my father. That kind of work can become sort of introspective, a sort of folding in on myself. So the chance to unfold and to unfold in company with other creative women is what draws me to this project,” said Marlene Booth, director of episode 1.

Seasons 1-3 are available online. Season 4 will be released soon and can be seen at this link.

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So, break out the popcorn and get ready for some truly inspiring work done by some of the best filmmakers Hawai’i has to offer.