Filmmaker Spotlight: Christopher Kahunahana

Lahaina Noon,” directed and written by Christopher Kahunahana, is featured on the X1 Asian American destination this May in the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month mini-destination. We had the chance to ask Christopher what inspired his filmmaking journey and how his Hawaiian background influences his work.

Photo: Christoper Kahunahana  

Tell us about your film featured on X1 this month!

Christopher Kahunahana:Lahaina Noon,” is the yearly tropical solar phenomenon where the sun passes directly overhead at noon. During this unique solar event, upright objects do not cast a shadow. Native Hawaiians believe that, at that moment, your shadow crawls back into your body and gives an individual extra mana or power. When confronted by life-altering choices, the main characters deepest desires are amplified by the cruel noon sun and forced their fate.

How did you get into filmmaking?

CK: Late at night, when everyone else had gone to sleep, Iʻd sneak out of my room to sit under my mothersʻ protective arm to watch “The Twilight Zone,” it was our secret to share the craziness of this imaginative world until the television would go off the air. These moments spent with my mom will be forever entwined with my love for films.

What are some films and/or filmmakers that have inspired you?

CK: There are so many films and filmmakers that have inspired me such as masters like Kurosawa, Kubrick, and Tarkovsky and there are contemporaries filmmakers like Lynne Ramsay, Wong Kar-Wai, Alejandro Inarritu, and Chloe Zhao.

Photo: Christoper Kahunahana

Do you have a favorite Asian American film?

CK: Films such as “Better Luck Tomorrow” and “Planet B-boy” are landmarks for me because they depict American life and culture through an Asian American point-of-view. “Better Luck Tomorrow” deals with crime from a uniquely teen perspective and “Planet B-boy” shows personal ambition through family struggle.

How does your Asian heritage influence your work?

CK: Growing up of mixed ethnicity in Hawaii allowed me to experience and explore different cultures and customs. Having been exposed to inspiring Asian filmmakers through the Hawaii International Film Festival has impressed upon me that specific, authentic stories can have global appeal and success.

What is your outlook on the state of Asian American cinema?

CK: It seems a greater number of productions are casting Asian actors in non-stereotypical roles, especially within independent films. There are also producers, such as Mynette Louie and Nina Yang Bongiovi, who work to create films that diverge from typical Asian American subjects. Iʻm hopeful that Asian American filmmakers will continue to create unique and vital cinema.

What’s next for you?

CK: I’m currently finishing post-production of my debut feature film “Waikīkī.” We plan for a festival premiere in the fall or winter. Iʻm also co-writing a feature screenplay slated for production in early 2019.
Photo: Christoper Kahunahana 

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Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Christopher Kahunahana! Watch “Lahaina Noon,” on the X1 Asian American destination or with Xfinity Stream this May for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month. Just say “Asian American” into your Xfinity X1 Voice Remote!

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For more Filmmaker Spotlights or Asian American news and entertainment visit Xfinity Asian American.