DEAN HAMER + JOE WILSON, “KAPAEMAHU”
WINNER 2021 JURY AWARD – BEST MINI-DOC
Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, 9 mins, 2019, U.S.
Filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson accept the SDFF 2021 Jury Award for Best Short for Kapaemahu. This richly animated short brings to life the hidden history of four monumental stones on Waikiki Beach, and the legendary transgender healing spirits within them.
The three jurors for the SDFF Jury award for mini-doc were thoroughly impressed by all of the films in competition. Without exception, every film was well made, addressed important content, and surprised the jury with fascinating stories. Choosing one film to honor out of this group was very difficult. However, we have chosen Kapaemahu as the 2021 SDFF Jury award for Best Mini-Doc. Juror Dawn Valadez said, “I loved that the makers shared the history of the two-gendered Hawaiian people and tied that to the struggles of transgender, nonbinary, gender-queer people of today. This film stood out from the others because it had the perfect combination of story, craft, and social justice message.” The three jurors all concurred that this film had it all, expertly crafted imagery, a concise and focused script, and a historical story that was exquisitely framed with present-day relevance. Juror Iza Pajak commented, “The movie touched me from the very beginning. I loved the sounds, music, voices – everything was connected to the artistic side of the movie.” Lastly, Theo Rigby commented, “While specifically commenting on the erasure of non-binary stories in our culturtal histories, this superbly crafted film connected with me on the universal theme of remembrance. The tale of Kapaemahu begs the question, “What happens when we stop remembering our ancestors, their immense power, and how we all came to be?” The three jurors congratulate the Kapaemahu filmmakers and wish them the best on their journey.
The film continues to reveal unimaginable horror of circumstances and beauty of souls intertwined. What opposites are carried in human beings. Director Marlen Viñayo does not try to blunt or resolve these contradictions. She shows this hopeless, unforgiving world with a ruthless compassion and artistic brilliance that reveals human goodness amidst the unremitting poverty, injustice, brutality. Unforgivable shows the unquenchbility of connection even in the darkest places.