Cane Fire • 1h 29m
Directed by Anthony Banua-Simon • 2020 • United States
The Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi is seen by many as a paradise of leisure and pristine natural beauty, but these escapist fantasies obscure the colonial displacement, hyperexploitation of workers, and destructive environmental extraction that have actually shaped life on the island for the last 250 years. This illuminating documentary critically examines the island’s history—and the various strategies by which Hollywood has represented it—through four generations of director Anthony Banua-Simon’s family, who first immigrated to Kauaʻi from the Philippines to work on the sugar plantations. Assembled from a diverse array of sources—from Banua-Simon’s observational footage to amateur YouTube travelogues to epic Hollywood musical sequences—CANE FIRE offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the economic and cultural forces that have cast Indigenous and working-class residents as “extras” in their own story.
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