Director: Lisette Marie Flanary | 72 min | 2019 | United States
“A reverent exploration of the intersection between culture and commerce.”
– Matthew Donaldson, Doc Edge
Today it is estimated there are nearly 2 million people dancing hula in Japan – a figure greater than the entire population of Hawaiʻi. With more people dancing hula in Japan than in Hawaiʻi where the native art was born, this phenomenal growth has created a multi-million dollar industry based on culture as a commodity.
But what motivates Japanese students and teachers to dance hula? How is it translated into a foreign culture? How do Native Hawaiians participate in this cross-cultural exchange? What about issues of cultural appropriation?
The way that this ancient art form is practised in the modern world is significant, as there are relationships between music, language, and culture to be considered, that ultimately express the heart of hula: storytelling.
Through the personal stories of Hawaiian master hula teachers and Japanese teachers and dancers, the documentary examines how tourism, economics and a love affair with the islands of Hawaiʻi have made hula big business in Japan.
'Tokyo Hula' is the final film in a Lehua Films trilogy of award-winning documentaries about the evolution of hula in the global world, following 'American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawaiʻi' (2003) and 'Nā Kamalei: The Men Of Hula' (2007).
Previous festival selections include:
Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival