“THE CALLING FROM THE HEAVEN” | International Premiere | Japan, United States | English, Japanese w/English subtitles | 79 min.
Written by Yuki Tsuchida. Directed by Kazuyoshi Nagashima.
Miwako’s belief that her son Rikiya Asai was born for a purpose and that every creature given life by God has a calling made Rikiya’s talent as a painter come into bloom. Stricken with cerebral palsy, Rikiya cannot walk or talk like a normal person. This documentary, which spans 20 years, tells their story.
Miwako reveals that one day, while at the top of a sleep slope, she thought of letting go of his stroller and then committing suicide. But when Rikiya discovers painting at age 4, their lives change forever. He is finally able to communicate his thoughts through painting. Rikiya’s paintings inspire empathy from many people and are exhibited in Japan, China, Taiwan, San Francisco and New York.
Now 30 years old, Rikiya has gone from being cared for to caring for those around him. Not surprising, Miwako, now in her 60s, worries about Rikiya’s life after she is gone. Rikiya had discovered his calling and continues rising to new challenges.
Screenings: Nov. 4, 6:15 p.m. | Nov. 5, 1 p.m.
“95 AND 6 TO GO” | U.S. Premiere | United States | English | 86 min.
Directed by Kimi Takesue.
Award-winning filmmaker Kimi Takesue’s latest documentary brings her back to her “second home,” Hawai‘i, where she captures the cadence of the daily life of her grandfather, who was born in Hawai‘i to immigrants from Japan. Amidst the solitude of his home routines — coupon clipping, rigging an improvised barbecue, lighting firecrackers at New Year’s — Grandpa Tom’s distinctly rich inner life is revealed.
As she queries her grandfather’s history of love and loss, a dramatic feature film project that Takesue has been developing provokes a surprising and sometimes humorous collaboration between the two. Grandpa Tom becomes intrigued by his granddaughter’s stalled screenplay and offers advice that is as shrewd as it is unexpected. A regular viewer of Japanese TV dramas, he gives her notes on catchy titles, as well as suggestions on vintage songs to use. With characteristic tough love, he also urges Kimi to move on with her life and get a “steady job.” Their growing collaboration provides a deeper understanding of Grandpa Tom’s fears and desires as he shares intimate memories collected over a lifetime.
Takesue continues in her trademark observational style, recognized in previous documentaries such as “Where Are You Taking Me?” (2010) and 2002 film, “Heaven’s Crossroad.”
Slow-paced, but ultimately fulfilling for the viewer, “95 and 6 to Go” pieces together the ordinary yet extraordinary life of a quiet, but stubbornly resilient man. Shot over a period of six years in Honolulu, this intimate meditation on absence and family expands the vernacular of home movies to consider how history is accumulated in the every day and animated with sparks of humor and creativity.
This film is nominated for the Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Best Documentary.
Screenings: Nov. 5, 8:15 p.m. | Nov. 6, 8 p.m.
“A SMALL LIFE” | World Premiere | Japan, United States | English, Japanese w/English subtitles | 46 min.
Directed by Lucretia Knapp and Lynne Yamamoto.
Nearly a lifetime has passed for three sisters who were born on the Big Island’s Häwï sugar plantation. Now in their 80s and 90s, they reflect on a tragic event that occurred in 1942, when they were so young. Silence built up around the event and memories eventually faded. Some fragments remained while others were lost.
“A Small Life” is a reflective journey, leaving the viewer to actively participate in piecing together its parts. The story unfolds through a range of engaging interviews. Although the crux of the story is devastating, the journey is lively with humor, thoughtfulness and warmth. The film builds an outcome, not through a collection of historical images and facts, but through the imagined thoughts of a community and the voices of the sisters, each of whose memories is intensified through the layering of other stories.
The shots of the sisters are long and beautiful studies. Throughout the film, the observant, intimate camera and a lingering pace call attention to the passage of time and the beauty in listening. Time has a significant presence in the work.
Screenings: Nov. 6, 6 p.m. | Nov. 12, 2:15 p.m. (Screening of “A Small Life” will be preceded by the shorts “Im/Perfection” and “Occasionally, I Saw Glimpses of Hawai‘i.”)
“MELE MURALS” | Hawai‘i Premiere | United States | English | 66 min.
Directed by Tadashi Nakamura. Produced by Keoni Lee and Kamakanioka‘aina Paikai.
“Mele Murals” is a documentary on the transformative power of modern graffiti art and ancestral wisdom for a new generation of Native Hawaiians. At the center of the story are two former illegal graffiti writers-turned-community artists — Estria Miyashiro and John “Prime” Hina, a group of Native Hawaiian youth and the rural community of Waimea.
Check out Hawai‘i Herald contributing writer Roy Kimura’s story about the story behind “Mele Murals” on Page 1. “Mele Murals has been nominated for the Halekulani Golden Orchid Award for Best Documentary.
Screenings: Nov. 6, 7 p.m. (IBM Building Courtyard) | Nov. 8, 3 p.m. | Nov. 12, 5:30 p.m. (Regal Kapolei) | Nov. 17 (Palace Theater) | Nov. 18, 6 p.m. (Waimea Theater)