Maui Connections

Hold the presses, this just in from our Guam bureau:

“Kuleana” has been named “Best of Fest” at the 2017 Guam International Film Festival!

Writer-director Brian Kohne emailed from Hagnata where the Hafa Adai! Festival was winding down. He was excited to pick up the film’s first international accolade.

“Guam loves our cast and crew. And connects with our purpose, too,” Brian posted on Facebook. The festival had also nominated Moronai Kanekoa, playing “Kuleana’s” protagonist, for best performance by an actor.

The victory at Guam (sounds like it should be the title of a World War II documentary, doesn’t it?) followed news a few days earlier of “Kuleana” being accepted to a festival in Canada. It’s won audience awards in every festival it’s entered so far, from Maui to the Mainland.

Produced by Stefan Schaefer, who also co-stars in the thankless role of the movie’s villain, Victor Coyle, “Kuleana” isn’t just a film that was shot and produced almost entirely on Maui in 2016, with the participation of hundreds of local folks in every aspect of the production.

What make it unique are its story and themes, stemming straight from Maui’s heart. Set in 1959 and 1971, the early years of statehood, it presents a vision of Hawaii that hasn’t made it to the silver screen before . . . and presents challenging issues that are still with us a half-century later.

Next stop, the Santa Cruz Film Festival Oct. 11-15, with a number a folks from the island heading over to attend, and even more former Mauians who now live on the Mainland planning to turn it into a homecoming.

Closer to home, the Akaku Upstairs Salon Series will present a free screening of “Get A Job” from 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday in the Akaku Center, 333 Dairy Road in Kahului. This rollicking, award-winning comedy, filmed and produced on Maui in 2011, marked the first collaboration between writer-director Kohne and producer/actor Schaefer. It covers a week in the lives of an unemployable man-child and a hapless employment agent. Eric Gilliom and Willie K star with Carolyn Omine, with plenty of other folks you’ll recognize — like Vinnie Linares, Chelsea Hill and Marsha Kelly — co-starring, or filling spaces in the background, like yours truly. Spotting island celebrities including Augie T, Jake Shimabukuro, Henry Kapono, Willie Nelson, Pat Simmons and the proverbial “many more” adds to the fun.

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Meanwhile, friends tell me that I missed a lot of fun for some good causes last weekend.

Habitat for Humanity Maui’s 20th anniversary Friday was sold out at the Andaz Maui at Wailea Resort.

The organization’s mission is to build decent housing and to renovate substandard housing on Maui in partnership with community volunteers and potential homeowners. Under Sherri Dodson’s direction, 115 homes have been built. Hana Steel, Paula Ambre, Beth Mathias, Elle Cochran, Darryl Banks, Cynthia Conrad and Jerry Labb were among those enjoying the great food, moving speeches, auction, casino and music.

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Last Sunday afternoon, the 29th annual Maui Academy Academy of Performing Arts Garden Party paid special honor to Harlan Hughes for decades of volunteering for this festive event that’s always a high point on the autumn social calendar.

Wailuku’s picturesque Yokouchi estate once again provided the setting, thanks to the graciousness of attendee Miki Yokouchi and her family. More than 20 restaurants “wowed the crowd with their gourmet food and beverages,” reported one attendee.

Kathy Collins emceed and Surfer Joe kept the auction rolling, with singers from MAPA’s summer hit, “The Hunchback of Notre Dame,” entertaining. Spotted in the crowd were Bill and Bobbie Best, Shone and Froyam Edel, Segoline and Sean Wilson, Gail Ainsworth, Donna Early, Linda Worth and Conrad, who took the prize for most glamorous hat. Linda Howlett once again chaired, turning this unique potpourri of food, wine, art, music and classic cars into a work of art in its own right.

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When we take extended trips to spend months with our family in Tucson, we trade houses and vehicles, too. It’s a great exercise in trust and making friends with strangers . . . not to mention the money it saves.

Of course, stepping into someone else’s house also has elements of stepping into their life — and they into yours — a bit like a Kafka novel. But next time you see my truck passing by — somehow it stands out from all the other 17-year-old, 200,000-mile silver Tacomas that should be declared the unofficial symbol of Maui County — that would be Tracy Langdon behind the wheel.

Flash him a shaka like you would me . . . since he sorta is me for the next little while.

* 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