Maui Connections

After being dazzled watching Brie Larson save the galaxy in the weekend’s blockbuster “Captain Marvel,” I revisited the interview I did with the actress at the 2013 Maui Film Festival.

Considering that Brie is currently the most powerful superhero on the planet — and a jet-propelled role model for Women’s History Month — it’s ironic that the impromptu interview spontaneously took place on a lawn next to a parking lot before she headed up the hill to graciously accept her Rising Star Award at the Celestial Cinema.

Although she would win a best-actress Academy Award for “Room” a few years later, what struck me was her lightness of being — an ease with herself, a cheerful sense of being absolutely present that translated into soft but undeniable power. That’s what drew Maui-born writer-director Destin Daniel Crettin to cast her in his award-winning “Short Term 12.”

Her Captain Marvel is far more, uh, complex than your standard-issue, testosterone-powered superhero. Fine as they are, it’s not the action sequences or the interaction with co-star Samuel L. Jackson that produced the $450 million opening weekend. It’s the close-ups of Brie’s face, and the endless nuances of emotion there.

Movies are about “the true beauty and importance of being in a theater and watching something that is 20 times bigger than you,” said the 23-year-old actress in 2013. “Whatever you want to call it — religious, spiritual, personal, whatever that bigger thing is for you — it’s that feeling of letting something wash over you. If we’re doing our jobs right, you care about somebody else more than yourself, and it transcends.”

Words spoken by an ingenue, but no less true from the queen of the galaxy.

* * *

Thanks to friends at home for keeping me posted on island happenings. Cynthia Conrad and Jerry Labb were among a lucky group delighted to attend a marine lecture March 2 in the Maui Ocean Center’s new Sphere, its specialized dome theater.

Ziggy Livnat, MFA, an underwater filmmaker, educator and conservationist, shared his stunning underwater visual adventures with the full house. Ziggy has devoted himself to the protection of marine environments with the making of several award-winning films. His amazing encounters with sea creatures, from corals to dolphins to 15-foot tiger sharks, created compassion in the audience for the preservation of our underwater oasis. His overall message was, “All of our oceans are connected, and you can make a difference.”

After the immersive experience, MOC General Manager Tapani Vuori reported the aquarium has healthy, living coral colonies because they circulate 1.2 million gallons of seawater into the park every day, cooled by a chiller that also slows coral bleaching.

* * *

Mana’o Radio celebrated its 17th birthday March 3 with “Carnivale!” at the VFW Hall in Kihei. The Brazilian/New Orleans-style festival had hundreds hooting, hollering and dancing to the hot beats of Dr. Nat & Rio Ritmo, Marima Komborera and the Ono Grimes Band. On the bill were beads, masks, fancy feather boas, spicy jambalaya, an auction and a costume contest.

Wearing an array of colorful costumes and towering head-pieces, beautiful Rosineli Curell entertained the crowd with spellbinding Brazilian dances. Seen hip-shaking and foot-stomping were Vickie Habib, Dave Futch, Barbara Barker, Jason Schwartz, Barry Sultanoff, Froyam and Shone Edel, Bruce and Susan Forrester and Suzi Osborn.

* * *

And Hui No’eau Visual Arts Center on the slopes of Haleakala was the perfect venue for a March 8 retrospective of the work of the late Douglas Chun, who lived in Kula with his wife, Janet. Born in China, he was a master architectural illustrator on the West Coast for 35 years, before retiring to Maui where he enjoyed painting at his home studio, along with gardening, tennis, cooking and fine wines. Switching from commercial art to fine art, he began with impressionistic watercolor landscapes then moved on to large dramatic abstracts.

Douglas practiced calligraphy daily and some of his exquisite calligraphic works are on display along with brushes, inks, chops and other tools. His large drafting table holds meticulously detailed illustrations of shoreline buildings in 1980 San Diego.

Janet Chun explains, “A soft-spoken, self-taught man of few words, Douglas’ commitment to his excellence is audible in every brush stroke.”

Paying homage to the artist were sponsors Sandi and Earl Stoner, Judy MCorkle and Tom Reed, BK and Peggy King and Sarajean Tokunaga. Gage Schubert and Tectonics, Architects ≤ Planners ≤ Engineers were also sponsors. Celebrating the quiet intelligence and expressions of inner joy in Chun’s paintings were Paul Wood, Honeybun Haynes, Will Spence, Judy Bruder, Ginger Johnson, Ditmar Hoerl and Judy Bisgard.

The exhibit continues through April 12.

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