Film by Justyn Ah Chong and Malia Akutagawa (Kanaka Maoli)
LOGLINE: A Native Hawaiian taro farming family is drawn into a logistically and emotionally complex quest to preserve their ancestral land. SYNOPSIS: The Fukumitsu ʻOhana (family) of Hakipuʻu are Native Hawaiian taro farmers and keepers of this generational practice. While much of Oʻahu has become urbanized, Hakipuʻu remains a kīpuka (oasis) of traditional knowledge where great chiefs once resided, and their bones still remain. The Fukumitsus are tossed into a world of complex real estate and judicial proceedings when nearby Kualoa Ranch, a large settler-owned corporation, destroys their familial burials to make way for continued development plans. Pili Ka Moʻo was filmed on the Occupied Kingdom of Hawai’i.
ARTISTS’ STATEMENT: “It seems that now more than ever, Native Hawaiian burials are being dug up and ancestral remains disturbed for the sake of continued “development,” “progress,” and economic gain here in the occupied Hawaiian Kingdom. By highlighting the Fukumitsu family and their ongoing struggle to protect their ‘iwi kūpuna (family burials), we hope this film sheds light on the reciprocal relationship Native Hawaiians maintain with their family beyond the veil, and allows others to see why for us, it isn’t simply old bones in the ground, but rather treasures worth protecting at all costs.” – Justyn and Malia
ACCLAIM: “A quote from the film lingers in my mind as a fellow Native Hawaiian: ‘To unearth our kupuna in the ground is like the final eviction.’ It is a reminder that the spiritual war featured in PILI KA MO`O clearly ties back to the Colonization of Hawai’i and the dark side of Capitalism.” — Ciara Lacy, Kanaka Maoli Filmmaker & Activist
CALL TO ACTION: In addition to watching this film and all 7 episodes of Season One of the Reciprocity Project, you can explore learning materials, watch filmmaker roundtable discussions, listen to podcasts, and read more about the filmmakers’ inspiration on the Reciprocity Project website: https://www.reciprocity.org/.