Director: Anthony Banua-Simon Run Time: 90 min. Release Year: 2020
The Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi is seen as a paradise of leisure and pristine natural beauty, but these escapist fantasies obscure the colonial displacement, hyper-exploitation of workers and destructive environmental extraction that have actually shaped life on the island for the last 250 years. Cane Fire 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 dance 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.
“Through original and deftly assembled archival footage, Anthony Banua-Simon’s debut documentary feature CANE FIRE considers the long arc of white, corporate economic & cultural pillaging of Hawaii.” – Patrick Dahl, Screen Slate
“A necessary corrective to the perception of Hawaiian identity that diagnoses the problem of representation in pop culture through the filmmaker’s own deeply personal lens.” -Eric Kohn, Indiewire
“CANE FIRE uncovers not one, but several underreported histories at the same time with equal parts reverence, relevance, and rage.” -Andrew Parker, The Gate