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Filmmaker ʻĀina Paikai on his inspiration behind “Hawaiian Soul”

Award-winning short film shines a spotlight on 'Ōlelo Hawai'i

George Helm gave birth to a new consciousness of Hawaiian Renaissance. The short film “Hawaiian Soul,” which won the Made in Hawai’i awards at the the 40th edition of the Hawai’i International Film Festival, chronicles Helm’s life and how he used his voice and music to bring people together. HI Now host Kainoa Carlson spoke to filmmaker ʻĀina Paikai about his inspiration behind the piece.

The narrative short-film is based on the true story of Hawaiian hero, George Jarrett Helm Jr. Paikai says it’s a tribute to the legacy of a leader and artist that used his voice to inspire a revolution of consciousness.

“George Helm is one of our last like alii — someone that really carried himself and was able to kind of show us as a people what it means to love our place and how to fight for it,” Paikai says. He goes on to say that he looks at Helm as a role model that used his talent and his passion to advocate for something bigger than himself — a positive message to send to future generations.

Against the backdrop of the 1970s native rights movement, Helm, a young Hawaiian activist and musician must gain the support of kūpuna (community elders) from the island of Maui to aid in the fight of protecting the precious neighboring island of Kahoʻolawe from military bombing.

The film brings ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i to the big screen, and showcasing the Hawaiian language is something that has always been an inspiration for Paikai.

“To me, with ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i, it was the idea of always putting ‘Ōlelo Hawai’i in any project that I work on because I feel like that’s important and kind of my gateway into media making,” he adds. “It’s something that I’ve always wanted and inspired to share with folks through the media landscape.”

“Hawaiian Soul” also won the Audience Award and the Jury Selected Award.

For more information on screenings, visit hawaiiansoulmovie.com.