A-Ron’s Made In Hawaii Film Festival Review Special: Ho’omau

A 22 Minute Short Film That Packs As Much Punch, Visual Style, Storytelling And Talent As Any Hollywood Film. “Ho’omau” Deserves To Be Seen On The Big Screen As A Full Length Hollywood Epic. 

Filmmaker Kenji Doughty set out to make his short film “Ho’omau”, full of intrigue, with the suspense and visual style of an action/adventure film set within an authentic Hawaiian setting. Doughty and his crew of passionate film lovers pulled together personal funds to film a portion of the film. They put together enough footage to cut together a riveting trailer to their film. 

Clearly evident in the films trailer is passion, style and talent. You could tell the production was of the highest value. Shooting just a small portion, it was clear that “Ho’omau” was destined for a bigger canvas. Doughty was not done with his vision. 

Doughty and his executive producer Keala Lucero put together a Kickstarter that started in 2015 to help fund the full length of their twenty-two minute short feature film. After being privileged by the Made In Hawaii Film Festival to being allowed access to view the film and reviewing “Ho’omau” for their 2019 festival. My one and only problem with it, was the fact that it was only twenty-two minutes long. 

It just wasn’t long enough for me, It was so good that I wanted more. I wanted it to keep going. “Ho’omau” has all the tools to become a 3 hour epic that feels of old Hollywood. Doughty and his team mix the visual effects, the intensity and visceral feel of Mel Gibson’s “Apocalypto” and Zac Snyder’s “300”. It has production values that could go head to head with any Hollywood film. 

“Ho‘omau” in the Hawaiian language means perseverance and persistence. “Ho’omau” also means to perpetuate, and to continue on, that will cause the good to be long lasting. Those who “Ho’omau” (persevere), do not give up easy consider their mistakes and failures to be only temporary from which they learn and move on from.

“Ho’omau” takes place in the wake of a significant migratory period in ancient Hawai‘i, some find abundance and peace, while others find war. Lead to believe that integration to the land will only bring suffering for his people. A young chief and his followers set out to rid their land of any newcomers. Then there is Lehua, a daring young girl who has lost her home in the chaos of war, hides out in a dark cave with her mother and infant brother. She longs to be out in the wild fighting the sinister dangers that lurk outside the cave, but when her grandfather returns wounded Lehua soon finds herself at the forefront of the struggle between life and death. 

Filmmaker Kenji Doughty has worked as a set production assistant and director’s assistant on numerous films and television series that have all filmed in Hawaii including: “Jurassic World”, “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire”, “Battleship” and “Hawaii 5-0”. He is backed by a team of talented individuals including: Editor Kali Kasashima, whose editing is so smooth and fluid. His skills are made for Hollywood as his editing is so seamless. Visual Effects supervisor Jess Bryden, and Cinematographer Ryan Miyamoto are also impressive. The only way to watch these visual talents at work in some of the most stellar visuals I’ve seen in some time is to watch it on on the biggest theater screen possible. 

They keep to minimal dialogue, but when they do speak, words are spoken of the authentic Hawaiian language. Doughty let’s the the visual style speak for itself. It’s all there painted on the screen for you as they incorporate historically accurate sets, props and costumes for a cast of Polynesian talent that includes strong female characters and incredible wide shots showcasing the films remote landscapes of the Islands. 

“Ho’omau” is a story about what’s right and wrong, the righteousness, the creation and destruction, and ultimately about choosing family and love.

GRADE: ★★★★★ (5 out of 5)



About Aron Medeiros

Aron Medeiros
Aron Medeiros lives on the beautiful island of Maui. He is a member of The Hawaii Film Critics Society, movie critic for Maui Watch, a commentator and cast member of the NerdWatch pod cast. He is a 2003 graduate from King Kekaulike High School. His favorite film of all time is “Back To The Future”. He has worked at Consolidated Kaahumanu Theaters for nearly 13 years as a Sales Associate and making his way up to Assistant Manager. He has loved movies since he was a young boy, learning about movies from his Grandfather and being self taught.

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