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Honolulu film festival highlights Black stories from across the country

An image from "Blurring the Color Line," a documentary film directed by Crystal Kwok.
Courtesy Crystal Kwok
An image from "Blurring the Color Line," a documentary film directed by Crystal Kwok. It will be featured at the festival on Feb. 10 and 16.

To mark Black History Month, one event highlighting Black stories in Hawaiʻi is the Honolulu African American Film Festival at the Honolulu Museum of Art through Feb. 26.

Akieme Glenn is the executive director of The Pōpolo Project and one of the festival organizers.

"Our African American Film Festival is always a really interesting time to bring our community together. And to explore different kinds of productions around identity, around geography, around stories, and we have a lot of wonderful films that we're showing this year that touch on African-American experience of course, but also kind of global blackness and conversations around Black identities in other places as well," Glenn said.

"We're hoping to really tie the film selections — as we normally do — to an experience here in Hawaiʻi," she added.

Glenn said there has been more awareness of the Black community in Hawaiʻi over the last several decades.

"When Barack Obama was elected to the U.S. presidency, there was both here in Hawaiʻi an awareness that this Black man had grown up here and was a part of our community and still has ties here, but also across the United States and around the world, there was an awareness that there is this African descended person whose home was here in Hawaiʻi," Glenn said.

Glenn said The Pōpolo Project continues to create a space for Black people in Hawaiʻi to find community with each other.

Later this week, the festival will feature “Blurring the Color Line: Chinese in the Segregated South.”

The documentary by filmmaker Crystal Kwok tells the story of her grandparents who owned a neighborhood grocery store in a Black community of Augusta, Georgia during the Jim Crow era.

Crystal Kwok is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Listen back to The Conversation's interview with director Kwok from April 2022.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Jan. 31, 2023. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Stephanie Han was a producer for The Conversation.
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