Los Angeles 2017
Hawaii, Berlin, San Diego Asian, Hot Springs Doc, ImagineNative, Portland, Big Sky Doc, Thin Line Doc
Hawaiian prisoners living in Arizona find an unlikely opportunity to learn about their heritage and themselves.
Due to lack of space on the islands of Hawai’i, many local prisoners are shipped off to Arizona to serve out their sentences in a private prison. In Ciara Lacy’s simple but at times poignant portrait, she focuses on three Hawaiian men who meet in Saguaro Correction Center: Kalani, who serves a life sentence; and David and Hale, who both have shorter terms. Kalani serves as a guide for both David and Hale, reconnecting them with native traditions through dance, songs, and history, and reawakening a sense of pride in their culture. Once both men are released and return to the islands, they struggle with the cyclical nature of the issues that found them behind bars in the first place. Taking on more of an intimate, personal approach than one that focuses on larger systemic issues of racial or class bias in criminal justice, the film may feel somewhat underdeveloped at times, but remains worthwhile for the cultural specificity it brings to issues around atonement and forgiveness.