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Filmmaker Alika Tengan Is Giving Native Hawaiians A Bigger Spotlight

  • June 21, 2022

It’s something he’s been trying to do throughout his career. Born and raised in Kaneohe, on the east side of the island of Oahu, Tengan studied film at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His first film professor, a groundbreaking Māori filmmaker named Merata Mita, “exposed us to Indigenous cinema. I hadn’t been studying art house films my whole life. It took me a while to get into that world. So the concept of indigenous cinema was very new to me,” he said. Mita, an early supporter of director Taika Waititi, showed Tengan’s class Waititi’s Oscar-nominated short “Two Cars, One Night,” which hugely influenced Tengan. Another one of Tengan’s professors, Lisette Flanary, who plays a small role in “Every Day in Kaimukī,” invited Waititi to speak to her class in 2010, the year his breakthrough film “Boy” premiered.

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