Tokyo Hula (2019)

  • 1h 12m
  • Lisette Marie Flanary
  • United States
  • 2019

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*** Festival Category | Moana Whārahi - Films from the Pacific ***

“A reverent exploration of the intersection between culture and commerce.”
– Matthew Donaldson, Doc Edge

Today it is estimated there are nearly two million people dancing hula in Japan – a figure greater than the entire population of Hawaiʻi, where this native art was born. This phenomenal growth has created a multi-million dollar industry based on culture as commodity.

But what motivates Japanese students and teachers to dance hula? How is it translated into a foreign culture? How do Native Hawaiians participate in this cross-cultural exchange? What about issues of cultural appropriation?

The way that this ancient art form is practiced in the modern world is significant, as there are relationships between music, language, and culture to be considered. These ultimately express the heart of hula: storytelling.

“For many Hawaiians the hula is a way of life,
the art of native dance expressing all that is possible
to see, hear, smell, taste, touch and feel.”

– Lisette Marie Kaualena Flanary

Through the personal stories of Hawaiian master hula teachers and Japanese teachers and dancers, the documentary examines how tourism, economics and a love affair with the islands of Hawaiʻi has made hula big business in Japan.   Tokyo Hula is the final film in a Lehua Films trilogy of award-winning documentaries about the evolution of hula in the global world. It follows American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawaiʻi (2003) and Nā Kamalei: The Men Of Hula (2007).

Watch Q&A: Ngaire Fuata talks to director Lisette Flanary

Previous festival selections include:
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival


English, Japanese

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