This image is the cover image for Finding 'Ohana

Reconnecting with Hawaiian Culture in ‘Finding ‘Ohana’

A family adventure film that features Hawaiian culture with a representative director and a diverse cast.

Finding ‘Ohana is a 2021 family adventure film directed by Jude Weng, a female director of Taiwanese descent. The movie focuses on Pili and Ioane “E”, two siblings from Hawaii who moved to New York City with their Hawaiian-born mother, Leilani, while their grandfather, Kimo, stays behind in Hawaii, as he is facing serious health issues. This film brings strong representation of multicultural people and Pacific Islanders, as most of the movie takes place in Hawaii.

Kea Peahu (Pili), Alex Aiono (Ioane), Kelly Hu (Leilani), and Branscombe Richmond (Kimo) play the main characters in Finding ‘Ohana. Their characters are all of Pacific Island descent, bringing strong representation of Hawaiians into the film. In addition, Jude Weng is a Taiwanese-born female director who makes her debut behind the camera in Finding ‘Ohana.

This image is of Pili on her quest
Pili goes on a quest

The theme of ‘Ohana in this film is similar to the themes of Lilo & Stitch (2002). ‘Ohana is the Hawaiian tradition of family, as Pili becomes curious about her family’s past and Hawaiian heritage. Pili uncovers a journal with words written in Hawaiian, sparking an adventure she embarks with Kimo. Kimo shares legends about their family’s past while Pili explores the island, something she hasn’t done in years.

While Pili is on a quest to learn about her family’s history, her older brother, Ioane, is desperate to find an Internet signal. Ioane isn’t too fond of Hawaiian culture and acts grumpy for most of the film, but eventually joins Pili on the quest to find ‘ohana.

The way Ioane joins his younger sister on the quest marks a change in his behavior, as he learns to understand his family better and follow family traditions. The end credits show Pili, Ioane, Leilani, and Kimo exploring the Hawaiian Islands, eating fruits, and walking on sandy beaches.

Finding ‘Ohana features some dialogue in Spanish and Hawaiian, emphasizing representation among the cast members. Overall, this film has strong representation of Pacific Islanders.



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