Cinema at the Hawaii Theatre

The brightly colored neon marquee of the Hawaii Theatre.

From the moment you walk through it’s doors, you can feel the sense of history behind the walls of the Hawaii Theatre. While predominantly a venue for musical and stage performances, it’s actually a somewhat multipurpose theater that has also showcased pagents, award ceremonies, political debates, and more. One of the myriad types of functions that the theater hosts on occasion are film programming events. This summer I had the opportunity to take in two different film presentations that were being held at the Hawaii Theatre.

Sing A Long Sound of Music :: July 15-17, 2011

The evening started opened with organ music and emcees explaining the programming for the evening.

So, if you don’t already know, I’m not all that into musicals. However, I’ve kind of warmed on them in the past couple of years, and to be honest, I’m always down to watch any movie at least once. I had seen bits and pieces of The Sound of Music over the years, but never watched it all the way through before. When I saw that it was going to be playing at the Hawaii Theatre and that it was going to be a “sing a long” style presentation, I figured it would be a good time to take it in. I mean, the Alamo Drafthouse has a history of running programming like this where you sing or quote along with the film. How could I go wrong?

These were the props that we were given to us to use doing the film. The highlight was definitely the champagne popper with the rest not being that great to use.

Well, things didn’t go exactly as I envisioned them. While for the most part everyone did sing along with the songs during the film, it also seemed as if everyone thought they had the right so yell things at the screen whenever they felt like it. Now, to be fair, at the beginning of the show they did say that there were really “no rules” for this sort of thing. However, you ALWAYS need rules or guidelines–for anything and everything.

So like I said, this gave people a free pass to say whatever they wanted to say, no matter how dumb or obnoxious it was. Now granted a few of the things some people said were funny and/or amusing. Most of it was just annoying. In the end, this wasn’t the best way for someone to watch the movie for the very first time. While some of the other moviegoers did bring down the experience of the night, it wasn’t all bad. We did get to see a movie in a venue that we don’t normally go to, and it was also a chance to go out and have a nice dinner and a movie in downtown Honolulu.

Under a Jarvis Moon :: August 24, 2011

Old photos document life on these small islands in the middle of the south Pacific.

I first heard about this documentary film when my parents went to go see it at HIFF 2010. Ahead of it’s debut on PBS Hawaii, the production company behind the film (Bishop Museum & Pacific Islanders in Communications) had a big gala viewing at the Hawaii Theater to promote the film.

Going in I only really knew it was about Kamehameha Schools students/graduates who went to these islands in the south Pacific. After seeing the film though, man was my mind kind of blown. Here is the film synopsis:

On March 20, 1935, six young Kamehameha Schools graduates sailed from Honolulu Harbor aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Itasca for destinations unknown. Carefully recruited for their physical and mental fitness, they believed they would be collecting specimens for Bishop Museum.

Instead, they found themselves on remote desert islands in the middle of the Pacific, living for months at a time in total isolation. The ability of these young Hawaiian men, as “Americans,” to survive would eventually enable President Roosevelt to claim jurisdiction over the islands of Jarvis, Baker, and Howland.

What this synopsis doesn’t tell you, is the isolation these boys faced, their resiliency, the unseen danger they were put in, and how war eventually did find its way to the islands these boys were on. While watching the film I couldn’t believe the number of things that could have went wrong while these boys were down there on those islands (and sometimes some things did). Granted, we have the benefit of hindsight today to look back on this and wonder, but I can’t imagine going through everything that they did.

Director/Producer Noelle Kahanu and several of the gentlemen that lived the experience and who were also featured in the film participated in a Q&A session..

In the end, I was really glad I attended this presentation of Under a Jarvis Moon at the Hawaii Theatre. If you’re interested in finding out more about Under a Jarvis Moon, Bishop Museum is screening it at various venues across the state and the DVD is slated to come out sometime next month. More details here.

Final Thoughts

After these two film presentations at the Hawaii Theatre I have to say I do have mixed feelings about seeing movies there. On the one hand it definitely feels like more of a special occasion when you see something there. From a technical standpoint though, this is not the best venue to see a film. There just aren’t the same acoustics and projection that you get with your standard theater. For future film events I definitely say it really depends on what is being shown and that audience that’s going to be there.

Have you seen a film or movie at the Hawaii Theatre? What was it and what was your experience like?

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