Maui Connections

Another film festival, another prize for “Kuleana.” The mystery-drama written and directed by Brian Kohne and produced by Stefan Schaefer just won the best feature award from the Tribal Film Festival in Cherokee County, Okla. This is the third victory for the Maui-made production, filmed on the island in 2016 featuring local talent on both sides of the camera. It previously won audience awards from Maui Film Festival and Texas’ San Antonio Film Festival.

On Saturday, it will screen at the Louisville International Film Festival, where the Southern Kentucky Film Commission has already honored “Kuleana” for “Cultural Achievement in Cinema.” Branscombe Richmond, who delivers a standout co-starring performance as The Moke, will represent the film at the festival. Branscombe is a longtime local guy and performer well known to Maui audiences as well as viewers of such recent TV series as “Roadies” and “Chicago Med.” Lately he has been working much of the year in Southern Kentucky, where Brian reports Branscombe is “producing a slate of motion pictures in 2017.”

The Southern Kentucky Film Commission will tour “Kuleana” to seven counties in coming months as part of a “Hawaiian Night” program “to demonstrate the types of independent motion pictures that are possible, as production escalates in the state.”

Brian will represent “Kuleana” in its international premiere at the Guam International Film Festival, where it will be the closing-night feature at 4:15 p.m. Oct. 1 at the Guam Museum. “Kuleana” is in the running for that festival’s Grand Jury Award, and Moronai Kanekoa, who stars as Nohea, is nominated for the Acting Achievement Award.

Another highlight of “Kuleana’s” film festival schedule will be the Santa Cruz Film Festival the weekend of Oct. 13-15. We’ll have more on that later.


“Kuleana” is following a similar path to the one blazed last year by the futuristic sci-fi adventure “2307: Winter’s Dream,” co-produced by award-winning Maui filmmaker and concert producer Kenneth K. Martinez Burgmaier.

After picking up a number of film festival awards nationally and internationally, and having its Maui premiere at the Ka’ahumanu Theaters a few months ago, Madison Hill Public Relations has announced the national premiere of “2307: Winter’s Dream” Oct. 6. One reviewer likened the movie to a combination of “Star Wars,” “The Thing,” “Blade Runner” and “Mad Max.”

Much of the action takes place in Arizona, where I’m writing these words and will be spending the autumn months. In the film, by 2307 Arizona has become a bleak, frozen landscape. That doesn’t sound so bad after some of the 100-plus temperatures we’ve encountered since arriving.

Ken also reports “another fantastic, sold-out Maui Jazz & Blues Festival on the Ocean Front Lawn at The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea last Friday.”

A highlight — “a wonderful magical moment” — was a performance of “Kansas City” by legendary Jazz Hall of Fame saxophonist Bobby Watson, Grammy and Louisiana Hall of Fame inductee Jo-EL Sonnier on accordion and Hall of Fame blues guitar legend Jimmy D Lane, winning a standing ovation from the crowd.

Shay Smith of Ocean Vodka; Andrew Trumbo of BMW of Maui and his wife, Dr. Zora Bulatovic-Trumbo; and Wally and Toni Taylor of Kula Hardware “were all on their feet with pure happiness and amazement!”


And Cynthia Conrad and her husband, Jerry Labb, email to say, “On Friday night the home of artist Sherri Reeve was full of Hospice Maui supporters who were there to raise funds to provide care, compassion and comfort to those in need. Co-host Dr. Rick Sands, Medical Director Nancy Long and CEO Greg LaGoy spoke about Maui’s only nonprofit hospice care agency and their beautiful, new, five-bed facility.

“Guests Pamela Tumpap and others shared moving stories of physical, emotional and spiritual support. Among those enjoying the Italian buffet and champagne punch were Dominick and Trish Marino and Mitch and Joan Berman.”

On Sunday morning, Cynthia and Jerry joined friends and parishioners to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Makawao Union Church.

“The remarkable C.W. Dickey-designed building was rededicated with an ‘aloha hour’ and a special service with cake and mimosas afterward,” they report. “Enjoying the historic event were Pastor Dave Schlicher, Shaun Lyons, Harlan Hughes, Mike and Joycelyn Victorino, author Jill Engledow, and choir members Judy Anderson and Bill, Chris, Pua and Kiele Kepler.”


And is anyone in Kula missing a turtle?

That lost-and-found item was the most unique listing — among posts for yard maintenance, chain saw repairs, free furniture, clothing alterations and other services — on the Nextdoor KULA social media site and email tree.

When you’re 2,500 miles away, this new neighbor-to-neighbor service makes you feel right at home.

* Rick Chatenever, award-winning former entertainment and features editor of The Maui News, is a freelance journalist, instructor at UH-Maui College and documentary scriptwriter/producer. Contact him at