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Short film 'Ala Moana Boys' follows Honolulu's infamous Massie Trials in the 1930s

KSG Films
"Ala Moana Boys" premieres Nov. 4 at the Consolidated Ward Theaters. It will also play on Nov. 19 at the Palace Theater in Hilo, and on Nov. 20 at the Waimea Theater on Kauaʻi.

The 2021 Honolulu International Film Festival begins this week. The festival screens dozens of films from the Asia-Pacific rim and spotlights Hawaiʻi filmmakers and their stories.

One short film screening this week is "Ala Moana Boys." The film adapts some of the events around Honolulu’s infamous Massie Trials in the 1930s.

"Ala Moana Boys" poster
KSG Films
"Ala Moana Boys" poster

It centers around Joseph Kahahawai, one of the five local young men who pleaded innocent after they were accused of raping a white woman, Thalia Massie, who was married to a Navy officer.

The film was written by Alexander Deedy, a Honolulu-based freelance journalist, and directed by Oʻahu-native Keliʻi Grace.

The Conversation sat down with the two to discuss making a film about some of the darkest days in Hawaiʻi’s history.

"I was actually surprised how many people don't know much about the case or if any at all," Grace said. "I'll be honest, I didn't know much either. I knew very surface stuff. I don't believe I was taught it back when I was in high school."

"I wanted to show that there is hope. These generations have endured a lot. So for us now, our responsibilities have changed and we need to share and bring this back up because the past generations have done a lot for us, as far as sacrifice," he told Hawaiʻi Public Radio.

Click here to watch the trailer. The film will be part of the “Made in Hawaii Shorts Program 1” screening on Nov. 4. For tickets to HIFF, click here. This segment aired on The Conversation on Nov. 3, 2021.

Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation and host of HPR's This Is Our Hawaiʻi podcast. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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