Those Who Came Before tells the story of a young Hawaiian ʻukulele virtuosoʻs journey of musical self-discovery and how it turned into a 50-year pursuit of Hawaiian cultural and musical traditions.
The documentary pays tribute to the music of Hawaiians whose gifts of knowledge helped guide Eddie Kamae. His pursuit led him to some of the most respected gatekeepers of the Hawaiian Renaissance: the great author and translator Mary Kawena Pukui, the “Songwriter of Waipiʻo” Sam Liʻa, “Aloha Chant” author Pilahi Paki, and Hawaiian cultural resource Lilia “Mama” Hale. One by one, they entrusted him with key pieces of Hawaiʻi’s musical heritage – inspiring him to understand, perform, and pass that heritage on to the children of Hawaiʻi.
Those Who Came Before: The Musical Journey of Eddie Kamae is the 10th documentary from Eddie and Myrna Kamae’s celebrated and multiple award-winning Hawaiian Legacy Series.
In 1999, Hawaiian music legend and documentary filmmaker Eddie Kamae visited the West Maui town of Lahaina, only to find that Pioneer Mill, the center of Lahaina’s sugar industry. was closing down. Eddie knew that this signaled the end of Lahaina’s plantation era. a simpler, more innocent time that he remembered fondly from the childhood summers he spent in the area visiting his grandmother. He knew that a change as momentous as this needed to be documented so he filmed the last harvest, the last cane burning, and the final days of operation at Pioneer Mill. The time Eddie spent in this old Maui town also revealed many treasures from the past, both historical and personal. This documentary is dedicated to Shigesh and Sue Wakida, whose love for the children and Lahaina live on.
“This story is told in an intimate, highly personal style that is the hallmark of all Eddie Kamae’s films”
– Mark Vleth, Lahaina News
This is the story of three extraordinary Hawaiian women who helped revive Hawaiian culture when it was perilously close to being lost. It was a time when the monarchy had been overthrown, the Hawaiian language banned from public places and schools, and the Hawaiian heartbeat of hula forced underground.
Mary Kawena Pukui, ʻIolani Luahine and Edith Kanakaʻole combined commitment to Hawaiian history with art and aloha, to reignite the flame of tradition. Each planted seeds of the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance. Kawena as a history and language expert, teacher and author, ʻIolani as a chanter, cultural icon and “high priestess of hula,” and Edith as a songwriter, teacher and founder of the traditional school of hula, Hālau O Kekuhi.
The lives of these three great women are described through heartfelt interviews with people who knew and were influenced by them, along with wonderful archival footage collected throughout the years.
Some of the leading voices of the Hawaiian Cultural Renaissance, which began in the early 1960s, were musicians and singers. Their songs carried feelings that were yearning to be expressed throughout the island chain. Among the most influential groups of that era was the Sons of Hawaii, led by Eddie Kamae, already famous for his ʻukukele styling, and by the great vocalist and slack-key guitar virtuoso, Gabby Pahinui, together with bassist Joe Marshall and the brilliant young steel guitar player David “Feet” Rogers.
This 80-minute feature length documentary, the seventh in the Kamaes’ award-winning Hawaiian Legacy Series, tells the story of a charismatic band. Spanning forty years of Hawaiʻi’s rich musical tradition, the film offer an intimate look at a unique group of performers and composers, their songs, their humor, their devotion to a sound that continues to convey something essential about the Hawaiian spirit.
“Eddie Kamae’s popularity as a musical renaissance man and leader of the seminal band
Sons of Hawaiʻi, has been eclipsed by his appetite for filmmaking and his ability to capture voices of Hawaiʻi’s musical and cultural legacies”
– Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser
This award winning, one-hour documentary pays tribute to the role of the kupuna (elders) in preserving Hawaiian culture. It focuses on the legacies of three respected Hawaiian elders whose lives bridged the transition from older times into the late 20th century. They are Ruth Kaholoaʻa, age 93, of the Big Island; Lilia Wahinemakaʻi Hale, age 85, of Oʻahu and Molokaʻi; and Reverend David “Kawika” Kaʻalakea, age 78, of Maui.
A special emphasis in the documentary is the power of the Hawaiian language as a key to cultural connectedness and continuity. Each of these kupuna speaks Hawaiian fluently, as it was once learned within their families. Each is a living archive of invaluable lore and recollection, a treasure whose stories, memories and perspectives need to be shared as a way of bringing the healing wisdom of the past into the often-fragmented world of the present.
“The films of Eddie Kamae are like no other. His only subject is his subject, not a demonstration of style. Direct, heartfelt, unfettered, pure, Kamae’s effect is one of wry precision.”
– Dave Donnelly, Honolulu Star-Bulletin
This award-winning, one-hour documentary pays tribute to the untamed spirit of a colorful and controversial Hawaiian man. Known throughout these islands and descended from a line of warrior chiefs, Luther Makekau was part philosopher and part outlaw, a chanter and a singer, a fighter and a lover, a cattle rustler, a rebel and a poet.
Born on Maui in 1890, during the reign of King Kalākaua, he lived nearly a hundred years, shaped by a century of turbulent cultural change.
“Luther Kahekili Makekau was colorful, controverisal and cantankerous… Kamae’s goal was not to canonize him but to share his spirit…”
– Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser
In Hawaiʻi, music has always been much more than a form of entertainment; it has been a key to Hawaiian culture. This one-hour documentary explores the sources of a complex tradition, from early chants and 19th century gospel influences, to the work of composers who flourished between the 1870s and the 1920s, for whom Hawaiian was still a first language. This film pays tribute to the poetry and play of their lyrics, as well as the places and features of nature which inspired songs still loved and played today.
This is the fourth film in Eddie and Myrna Kamae’s highly acclaimed Hawaiian Legacy Series. It features some of Hawaiʻi’s most respected cultural resources and talented performers. Among them: Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Lydia “Mama” Hale, Andy Commings, Clyde “Kindy” Sproat, Helena Maka Santos, Sheldeen Halemau, Gary Halemau, Aaron Mahi, Rev. Dennis Kamakahi and “Braddah Smitty” Hoapili Smith.
“A fascinating cultural story of Hawaiʻi from the 1870s to the 1920s, as seen through the development of a distinctly Hawaiian style of music. It charts the melding of imported musical forms with the indigenous chants of the native Hawaiians, and shows the continuous inspiration of the natural beauty of the islands.”
– Rita De Silva, The Garden Island
Listen to the Forest is an environmental documentary speaking to the widespread concern for rainforest preservation. It is about the Hawaiian Islands, and also about a Hawaiian way of feeling. A film for all ages emphasizing the powerful connection between a unique natural history and Hawaiʻi’s rich cultural life.
Combining interviews, traditional chants, and original songs and dances, this film gives voice to an order form of ecological wisdom summed up in the phrase malama ʻaina – to take care of the earth – which is both our physical home and a source of spiritual nourishment.
“Kamae charms viewers with his vision of Hawaiʻi as a place where all living things are conscious, where every living creature has a soul”
– Lee Quarnastrom, San Jose Mercury News
Sam Liʻa was a Hawaiian song composer who spent his life in the remote valley of Waipiʻo on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. There he perpetuated the tradition of celebrating the beauty of one’s place and memorializing the events of its people. Among the musicians inspired by Sam Liʻa is Eddie Kamae, a major force in the revival of Hawaiian music. In this film, he translated his gratitude and love for Liʻa into a visual song, in which music, place and people find their original harmony.
“Imparts a deep sense of the traditional Hawaiian balance between the people, their music and the land.”
– Diane Mark, Cinevue, New York
In this vintage performance, one of Hawai‘i’s most celebrated slack key guitar players, George Kahumoku, plays a selection of songs including: “36 Mile Marker,” “Ho‘okupa” and “Hi‘ilawe.”