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Kapaemahu, the powerful animated short film in the running for an Oscar nomination

Once upon a time, four people, not male and nor female, set out from Tahiti and brought their healing arts to Hawaii. Loved by the people for their gentle ways and miraculous powers, they locked their energy into four giant rocks and left their story in the sand.
Today, those rocks are still there, standing on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, and the powerful legend behind their past is hundreds of years old.
We discovered it by watching Kapaemahu, the animated short film directed by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson and animated by Daniel Sousa.

This short film tells the story of an indigenous people, describes their cultural traditions, brings to life a powerful legend and narrates it in Olelo Niihau, an ancient Hawaiian dialect.
The protagonists of the story are mahu, third-gender transgender people, spiritual figures who respect and embrace both male and female aspects, individuals who throughout history have been victims of bigotry, exclusion and violence.

Kapaemahu is the first animated, Hawaiian, indigenous and LGBTQ+ short film in history to be in the running for an Oscar nomination in the Animated Short Film category.
This work combats the glaring problem of deprivation, exclusion and under-representation of minorities and seems to be the new manifesto of #OscarsSoWhite, the protest movement born a few years ago to focus media attention on the entertainment industry’s treatment of historically marginalised groups.

Kapaemahu tells a story of inclusion, encourages fair representation of minorities and spreads themes of healing, restoration, love, peace and harmony.

Enjoy your viewing.


Written, Directed and Produced by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson
Animation Director: Daniel Sousa
Sound and Music: Dan Golden
Chant Composer and Chanter: Kaumakaiwa Kanakaole
Narrator by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
Chant Sound Producer by Shawn Pimental
Sound Mix by Phil Perkins
Executive Director for PIC by Leanne Ferrer

Kapaemahu, the powerful animated short film in the running for an Oscar nomination