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.
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
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
This film is a moving journey into the beauty and meaning of Hawaiian slack key music. Director Eddie Kamae’s rare combination of master musician and cinematic storyteller is the key to showing how Hawaiʻi’s cultural traditions and the ki hoʻalu guitar intertwine, and opening the door to a greater love of that music.
Candid interviews and archival images combine with the music of many virtuoso performers, from the legendary Fred Punahou and Gabby Pahinui to Raymond Kane and today’s Ledward Kaapana, to tell the slack key story from the 1830s to the present. It shows you how this music perpetuates family tradition as songs, techniques and special string tunings are passed from one generation to the next.
All the main islands are visited, including seldom-seen Niʻihau, as Eddie Kamae explores this kind of Hawaiian music and its links with the people and places that have nourished it.
“A beloved document with candid interviews, virtuoso performances, impromptu dances, and some archival footage that tells, like never before, the precious story of slack key, from the early 19th century to the present.”
– Wayne Harada, Honolulu Advertiser
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