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Directed by Lisette Marie Flanary

TOKYO HULA explores the explosive popularity of the hula dance in Japan from both Native Hawaiian and Japanese perspectives. Today it is estimated there are nearly 2 million people dancing hula in Japan – a figure greater than the entire population of Hawai’i, where the native art was born. This phenomenal growth has created a multi-million dollar industry based on culture as commodity. But what motivates Japanese students and teachers to dance hula and how is it translated into a foreign culture? How do Native Hawaiians participate in this cross-cultural exchange? Through the personal stories of Hawaiian master hula teachers and Japanese teachers and dancers, the documentary examines how tourism, economics and a love affair with the islands of Hawaiʻi has made hula big business in Japan.

Director Biography: Independent filmmaker, educator, and hula dancer, Lisette Marie Flanary creates films that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula dance and Hawaiian culture. She is the writer, producer and director of Lehua Films and her award-winning documentaries, AMERICAN ALOHA: HULA BEYOND HAWAIʻI, NĀ KAMALEI: THE MEN OF HULA, and ONE VOICE have broadcast nationally on public television and shown in film festivals around the world.  Her latest film, TOKYO HULA, the final film in a trilogy of hula documentaries exploring the explosive popularity of hula in Japan, premiered at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival in November 2019. She is currently an Associate Professor at the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa and is one of the co-directors of Good Pitch Local Hawaiʻi.

Program includes exclusive Q&A with director Lisette Marie Flanary.

Co-presented by: The Queer PaulettesJapanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California


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With support from the Consul General of Japan, CAAMFest FORWARD will showcase and celebrate storytellers from Japan. This special section will include three films, all streamed on-demand.


For many years, CAAMFest has partnered with Pacific Islanders in Communication (PIC) to bring stories from the Pacific Islands to Bay Area audiences. We are thrilled to continue this legacy through our virtual festival.