Act of War – The Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation

Directed by Joan Lander, Puhipau

After the feature, enjoy a FREE bonus recording of the special LIVE panel on Sovereign Cinema with filmmaker Joan Lander of Nā Maka O Ka ‘Āina, Leanne Ferrer from Pacific Islanders in Communication, and Anthony Banua-Simon of CANE FIRE (recorded 5/1/21).


Special Recognition, 1993 First Nations Film & Video Alliance, Yamagata International Documentary Festival
Special Recognition, 1993 Aotearoa Film Festival
Official Selection, 1994 Berlin International Film Festival
Web of Time Award, 1995 Two Rivers Native Film & Video Festival

We already know how the story ends. In January 1893, armed forces staged a coup against the Hawaiian Kingdom, paving the way for annexation and later statehood by the United States. It’s what happened in the years, days, hours before that is shocking and downright maddening. Directors Puhipau and Joan Lander call it what it is – an act of war – and their landmark documentary chronicles with the wisdom of a storytelling elder and the fury of an indigenous activist the series of events that saw a sovereign people stripped of their identity, livelihoods, and land.

The filmmakers, working as Nā Maka o ka ‘Āina (“the eyes of the land”) take a familiar public television format (talking heads, stylized re-enactments, archival remnants) but interrupt this flow with a Hawaiian voice, aimed straight at the camera, creating a dialogic battleground of ideas that challenges what we mean by public media and who mean by the “public.” Layering the spiritual and the analytic, the cultural and the economic, they depict with searing clarity the story of how a shared indigenous land became privatized land, militarized land, and finally, occupied land. Puhipau and Lander also layer images of contemporary activism, a call to arms that asks: we may know how this story ends, but what will be the one to follow?

–Brian Hu

Purchase tickets to all three films in SOVEREIGN CINEMA for the special price of $25 general / $20 members

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