At last, Brian Kohne’s Maui-made movie Kuleana is on track for release in Hawaii theaters, Kohne said in a Feb. 9 email to supporters. According to Kohne’s announcement, the movie–which he filmed in the summer of 2016–will finally open in Hawaii theaters on March 30, 2018.
“A few weeks later we’ll begin our mainland screenings; presumably in the places where our island people congregate,” Kohne said in the announcement. “Later in the year we’ll move to VOD (Video On Demand) and DVD. If our work is well received this year, Television and International opportunities also await.”
There’s no a surprise that it’s taken so long for Kuleana to get theatrical release. Filmed on Maui, the movie is an ambitious noir thriller, set in both 1959 and 1971. The movie, which centers on a disabled Vietnam War veteran who rediscovers his Hawaiian heritage as he seeks to clear his father’s name delves into issues of Hawaiian statehood, the Hawaiian Renaissance in the 1970s and the near-extinction (and later recovery) of the Hawaiian language.
It stars actors from Hawaii–most notably Moronai Kanekoa, Kristina Anapau and Sonya Balmores. Raising money to fund the project was particularly difficult, Kohne told me, and it’s easy to understand why: this is Maui, and Kuleana’s villain (played by producer Stefan Schaefer) is a powerful land developer (click here to read my 2016 story on the making of Kuleana).
Kohne, who wrote and directed Kuleana, has been working on the film for a while. I first interviewed him about the film in 2013, when all he had was a script, a pitch to raise money and his previous experience making the 2011 comedy Get a Job.
Kohne and his crew finished cutting the movie in the fall of 2016. The film debuted at the 2017 Maui Film Festival, where it won the Audience Choice Award. It was later screened at the San Antonio Film Festival (Audience Choice Award), Hawaii International Film Festival, Santa Cruz Film Festival and the Tribal Film Festival in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, where it won the Best Feature Award.
Go to Hawaiicinema.com for more information.
Photo of actor Ryan Ursua, writer/director Brian Kohne and producer/actor Stefan Schaefer: Jack Grace