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ABOUT THE STORY
Return to Hālawa is the inspiring life story of Phillip Thomas Solatorio, one of the last Hawaiians born, raised, and still living in Hālawa Valley, Molokai. Today, he is a cherished "Kupuna" (Hawaiian elder), musician, storyteller, educator, and ambassador of Aloha. At age 70, Pilipo searches to find someone to perpetuate the special traditions, stories, and music of Hālawa Valley that were entrusted to him by his kūpuna.
Hālawa Valley is the gem of Molokai, a lush and isolated valley famous for being the oldest known place of human habitation in Hawaii (650 AD). Pilipo explains that the name "Hālawa" means sufficient, in the sense that it is a place that provides both nourishment and sustenance to body and soul.
Isolated at the end of the road on one of the least populated Hawaiian islands, Hālawa's stories and music are nearly forgotten by today's generations. Pilipo longs to leave a legacy of tradition that will be perpetuated by those he loves. He does not want the sacredness of Hālawa to be forgotten. Will his son, Greg, return home from the city and walk in his footsteps or will New Yorker, Jason Poole, be his only hope? For Pilipo, Aloha (love) has no boundaries.
Born in Hālawa Valley in 1943, Pilipo was adopted out at age 3 after his Mother's tragic death. He grew up in the isolation of Molokai's Hālawa Valley during a time of major change in Hawaii. As a child, his adopted grandfather taught him the ancient stories and traditions of Hālawa . But life in the valley was not easy and at age 16 Pilipo would run away to see the world. His fondness of foreign cultures and his repertoire of traditional Hawaiian music would set him apart during his travels. Ultimately, his roots and deep cultural ties would bring him home to Molokai and then back to live in the valley of his childhood.
Life in the valley may seem idyllic, but it means no electricity, water, or phone service. It means very little income and a lot of physical labor. But returning to his childhood home has allowed Pilipo to return to the humble life of his ancestors - one of sustainability, simplicity, and living close to nature. For Pilipo, the Hawaiian traditions, stories, and places of Hālawa Valley are "sacred, not secret." His life purpose has been to teach others and to foster understanding and connection with all who visit his home.
Greg Kawaimaka Solatorio is Pilipo's second youngest of 5 children. He was born and raised on Molokai and spent much of his youth with his father in Hālawa Valley. A surfer, hunter, & fisherman Greg is a true keiki (child) of Molokai. Like his father, Greg's life lead him away from Molokai for work and to support his own growing family. But, at age 35, Molokai and Hālawa is calling him home. Will Greg make the painful decision to leave his wife and children until he can set up a life for them in Hālawa? It's not an easy decision to make, but he knows his father needs him.
ABOUT JASON POOLE
Musician, Jason Poole, the Accidental Hawaiian Crooner, has a unique story. A classically trained New York musician looking for healing and direction, fate would bring him to Molokai and a growing appreciation for Hawaiian culture would bring him to Pilipo. Pilipo teaches Jason to play Hawaiian music "Hālawa style" and then instructs him to share with the world what he's been taught – repertoire from Hawai‘i's golden age of song, especially the songs of Molokai.
Jason now teaches Hawaiian music to New York youth and returns to Molokai every year to study under Pilipo. He has become fluent in Hawaiian language and is currently in the process of writing and composing new mele (songs) with Pilipo to use as original soundtrack for the documentary (sample below).
ABOUT THE FILMMAKER
Matt Yamashita is Molokai's first "born and raised" professional filmmaker. He has been producing videos about his unique island home since 2001 with the goal of perpetuating the island's culture and stories. Matt's films are about social justice, aloha ʻāina, and capturing the essence of a unique island community. His previous documentaries include pieces such as: "Save Lāʻau Point,Molokai," "Molokai Mom on a Mission - Standing up to GMO," "Sustainable Living on the Island of Molokai," "The Rain Follows the Forest," & "Mai Ka Piko Mai a Ho'i - Return to Kanaloa." Matt is a keiki (child) of Molokai who tells these compelling, transformative stories about Molokai in an effort to teach the rest of the world what it is to aloha ʻāina and live from a place of authenticity.
Matt has known Pilipo for most of his life and is his hānai son. He has been a student of Hawaiian culture and hula under Pilipo for many years. This project is a way for Matt to give back to Pilipo and to do his own part in perpetuating the stories of Hālawa.
ABOUT THE PROJECT
To date, Matt and his team has filmed and edited over 35-hours of footage for this documentary and invested over $25,000 of in-house funding, time, and energy to bring the project to where it is today. This preliminary work has given the project a solid framework and story line. The filmmakers now have a clear idea of what additional content must be recorded to complete the project. This includes 5 additional days of filming in Hālawa Valley and 1 day in New York. Kickstarter funding will be used to cover the cost of additional travel, services, production, and editing. Your donation will help fund the final stages of this important documentary and get it out to the world.
Our $22K fundraising goal is the minimum amount needed to successfully complete this project. Raising more than $22K would be ideal, as it will allow the filmmakers to invest more time and energy into getting the story out to broader audiences.
Risks and challenges
Over 60% of the footage for this documentary has already been shot and rough edited. The only foreseeable challenges are the regular ones that come with producing a video. These include scheduling production days, travel logistics, locking in a final cut by Summer of 2014, and securing music and archival image clearances for copyrighted material.
We are setting a finish deadline of Summer 2014 in an attempt to get this project out as soon as possible. Because of Pilipo's age and health, there is an urgency in completing the project. It is his desire to have the video made available to the public at no cost, so the final will be shared in as many venues as possible for free viewing. DVD copies will be made available for purchase online. If we raise more than the $22K goal, we will run the documentary in as many film festivals as we can afford.
Because we are so far along with production and have the proven experience necessary to complete the project, there is very little risk in terms of the completion of the project, if funded. If we do not raise the necessary funding, the project will have to be delayed until funding becomes available.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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