As part of our All Roads Film Festival coverage, today IT talks to filmmakers Puhipau and Joan Lander, whose film Na 'Ono o ka 'Aina – Delicacies of the Land is featured in this year’s festival. Part music video, part documentary, the film is narrated by taro advocate Jerry Konanui, who addresses the importance of preserving traditional taro cultivation and the controversy of genetic engineering.
The film will be screened this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. at the National Geographic headquarters in Washington DC. The complete schedule for this weekend’s festival can be found here. A National Geographic program, All Roads provides an international platform for indigenous and underrepresented minority-culture artists to share their cultures, stories, and perspectives through the power of film and photography. Read more from this series here, here, and here.
What prompted you to make the film?
In 2004, we participated in a film festival panel discussion with the producers of The Future of Food, a seminal documentary on the genetic engineering of food crops and the threat to world agriculture. Little did we know then that two years later we would be producing a Hawaii version on the same subject for the environmental law firm Earthjustice, a half-hour piece entitled Islands at Risk – Genetic Engineering in Hawaii.
During production, we learned that Hawaii is the genetic engineering capital of the world and that there is a lack of awareness as to what the GMO industry and the university research scientists are doing in the islands. The highly secretive bio-ag industry often influences legislation so thoroughly that not even the governor had the right to know where experimental and potentially dangerous bio-pharmaceutical test plots were being grown. We were able to shed light on all of these facts in our documentary.
But when we learned that the genetic engineering industry was going after the kalo (taro), sacred staple food of the Hawaiian people, we knew that another, more focused, video was in order. In addition, legislation to protect kalo from genetic modification was coming up in the Hawaii legislature and a video was needed to inform lawmakers and the public.