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Cane Fire

Directed by Anthony Banua-Simon

After the feature, enjoy a FREE bonus recording of LIVE Q&A with Anthony Banua-Simon, director of CANE FIRE, recorded 4/25/21.

* Limited tickets available.

Best Feature Documentary, 2020 Indie Memphis Film Festival
Official Selection, 2021 MOMA Doc Fortnight

Film history is also family history and colonial history in Anthony Banua-Simon’s riveting documentary about the construction of Hawai’i as a South Seas fantasy. In a mesmerizing stream of archival footage, Hollywood excerpts, YouTube-ready travelogues, and new interviews with indigenous activists, ordinary folks, and family members, Banua-Simon fuels old flames – the ones first imagined by a Filipino great grandfather who dared speak up against the plantation owners who exploited him and other migrant workers.

CANE FIRE is a brilliant collage, an essayistic scalpel into the way that Hollywood colludes with statehood and public relations distort aloha to justify the development of Kaua’i into a modern colonial paradise. Banua-Simon’s great grandfather – like so many locals – also served as an extra in Hollywood films, providing “local color” and native authenticity. But what once seemed like a novel way to make a quick buck has become the central conceit of the tourism industry. As one developer puts it, he can love the culture without acknowledging the kingdom. CANE FIRE makes an explosive case for both, and the rights of laborers against the colonial state, erupting in a climax that is as much an act of rebellion as a rewriting of film history.

–Brian Hu

Co-Presented by UCSD SPACES, UCSD Pacific Islander Student Association