Maui Connections

Amid all the film festival buzz of late, a couple of Maui filmmakers have emailed to proudly announce that their works have been selected to screen at the Big Island’s second Made In Hawaii Film Festival, coming to the Hilo Palace Theater June 1 and 2, and Kona’s Aloha Theatre June 14.

Director Jonathan Yudis’ “The Ali’i’s Seed,” described as “a Hawaiian retelling of an ancient folktale about how a chief, or leader, selects his successor,” is part of the short film program playing in Kona June 14. Eric Gilliom and others in the Maui filmmaking community worked on the project, Jonathan reports.

“Ho’omau,” directed by Kenji Doughty and produced by Maui’s Ken Martinez Burgmaier, will screen June 1 in Hilo and June 14 in Kona. “Following a migratory period in ancient Hawaii, war breaks out between the tribes and Lehua must persist against perilous odds to defend all she holds dear,” says the festival release for the film, already a prize winner at the Hawaii International Film Festival.

Skimming the festival schedule, I’m seeing other short films with Maui connections including MarQ Morrison’s “Ka Hale: A Revival,” about architect and kumu Francis Palani Sinenci’s inspiring work “leading the revival of ancient Hawaiian hale building in an effort to save indigenous cultural practices.” Also on the bill is “Donut Dynamite!” directed by Austin Michael Alimbuyuguen about “a tiny, celebrated donut shop in Maui where everything from the sprinkles and up are created from scratch.”

My apologies to any Maui-made films I may have overlooked. For more on the Made In Hawaii Film Festival, visit www.mihff.org.


Changing into his festival producer hat, Burgmaier will also be presenting his eighth annual Big Island Jazz & Blues Festival on May 30 through June 2 oceanfront at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.

“I just returned from the 50th annual New Orleans Jazz and Heritage festival filming and hanging out backstage with some wonderful New Orleans friends and Grammy legends like Wayne Toups, Delfeayo Marsalis, Herbie Hancock, the Iguanas, The Radiators, Marcia Ball, Kenny Neal, Chubby Carrier, Chris Thomas King, Donald Harrison, Buddy Guy, The Headhunters and others,” reports Ken. He promises to have the “New Orleans JazzFEST vibe” coming to the Big Island festival.


Staying in the video vein, Janet and George Allan sent a link to www.4ocean.com, which offers an innovative way to do your part combatting the ocean plastic crisis, and look good while you’re doing it. The organization is selling its cool-looking 4ocean Signature Bracelet for $20, made from glass and plastic recycled from the ocean. Sale of one bracelet funds removal of one pound of trash; the counter was at 4,420,067 pounds removed as I wrote these words.

“Here in the middle of the Pacific, we all have big connections to the ocean somewhere along the line,” writes Janet. “George and I think this idea is a big and important one, especially having seen coastlines all over the world that are littered with trash of some kind or another, some tragically so.”


Maui Youth Ranch’s inaugural fundraiser, “Pearls, Ponies & Pupus,” was a huge success, according to the those who attended on a sunny Cinco de Mayo. The nonprofit organization run by Executive Director Toni Martin provides equine therapy for children and adults with emotional or physical needs. All proceeds from this event went toward providing therapy sessions with their ponies and horses. (Maui Youth Ranch is also a rescue facility for abused and neglected horses.)

On Toni and Dr. George Martin’s majestic Ohana Ranch in Lower Kula, consultant Brien Benjamin demonstrated how the horses connect with those in need. He selected board member Colleen O’Shea Brady, and guests Julia Castleberry and Cynthia Conrad (who provided this report) to enter the arena and work with two gentle giants, Cowboy and Rico. While the horses, or “doctors” as they call them, were a little distracted by the many guests looking on from the railing, one could see how Maui Youth Ranch creates a nurturing environment using equine therapy.

Helping out at the registration table were Toni’s daughters Leah Stolley and Naomi Andrews-Kona’aihele. The silent auction offered everything from saddles to succulents, not to mention beautiful Tahitian pearl jewelry. Bev Gannon catered the bountiful Mexican buffet and the crowd was entertained by the local band Country Knights. Other board members in attendance were Dr. Jim Patterson, Liz Immarino, Tracy Pilgrim and Brianna South. Also enjoying the event were Dr. Marcus and Marilyn Griffin, Gene and Cheryl Zarro, Dr. Peter Galpin and Nina Sato, Bob and Donna Hansen, Dr. Gene and Linda Wasson and Elsa Wark.

* 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 rickchatenever@gmail.com.