Mauna Kea – Temple Under Siege

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).


2020 inductee, National Film Registry

At almost 14,000 feet above sea level, the dormant volcano, Mauna Kea, has its own climate. A tropical inversion cloud layer seals in the warm humidity below, keeping the mountain air dry and clear. For Native Hawaiian navigators, Mauna Kea’s snowy peaks surfacing from the otherwise flat expanse of the Pacific ocean signalled the end of a long journey back to their home on Hawai’i Island. Mauna Kea is a kūpuna, an ancestor. Its waters are goddesses, its soil a burial ground. Its tallest peak is a sacred temple, the place through which they are meant to access the heavens.

This proximity to celestial planes has made Mauna Kea the ideal construction site for astronomers taken by age-old questions of the universe and nations racing towards space, exploration, and conquest. By the 1980s, thirteen telescopes cluttered the slopes of Mauna Kea. Their construction leveled not a few cinder cones, and subsequent operations brought untoward damage to species native to the mountain.

The making of Mauna Kea: Temple Under Siege began in 1999, when a new master plan to bring further development to Mauna Kea was announced. The film is the product of five years spent documenting the defense of the mountain and debate around its use. To quote a featured activist, “great science, wrong mountain.” Filmmakers Joan Lander and Puhipau, who compose the documentary collective Na Maka o Ka ‘Aina, remind the world that tied to Mauna Kea are the culture, ecology, and environment of Hawai’i, and though it is vast, the mountain is a finite resource.

–Ant Lorenzo

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

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