Finding ‘Ohana joins the Representation Matters Collection bringing the rich Hawaiian culture to Netflix.
After chatting with screenwriter Christina Strain and Director Jude Weng about representing the Hawaiian community, they had nothing but praise for the work that Netflix put into casting locals and newcomers for the film.Finding ‘Ohana is a Goonie-style family adventure that offers a look into Hawaiian culture and the importance of family.
Newcomer Kea Peahu is a joy to watch on screen as Pilialoha “Pili” Kawena. The chemistry that she shares with her on-screen brother Alex Aiono who plays Ioane, is that of most siblings I know, myself included. Both Kea and Alex have substantial followings on social media for their additional talents. Kea is a dancer that has competed in some of the top dance challenges, and Alex is a singer.
Another newcomer that brings additional Pacific Islander charm is Lindsay Watson. Her character is kind and strives to keep her heritage alive and at the forefront of the siblings’ minds.
Finding ‘Ohana takes a look at a family that has left their roots and grown up in the big city of New York. Island traditions and language are lost on the pair when they return to help out with their grandfather.
Pili’s need for adventure brings her to the glorious region of Kualoa Ranch, where over 80 movies have been filmed, including Jurassic Park, Jumanji, and now Finding ‘Ohana. Through sacred caves (not actual caves, entering caves in Hawaii is forbidden), but elaborate sets in Thailand.
Watching these four new friends conquer their fears and work together to uncover a missing treasure is a valuable lesson for young viewers. While some of the film’s plot may seem far fetched, most of the treasure’s history and the Polynesian heritage surrounding the Night Marchers are real.
Strain and Weng hired a Hawaiian consultant, a Geocache consultant, a Night Marcher consultant, and a Tattoo consultant. They had a traditional Hawaiian priest bless their sets and crews asking the spirits permission to film on location.
Weng says, “This is a movie that I want Hawaiians and Asian Pacific Islanders to look
at and say, ‘Wow. These people did their homework.’”
The movie is filled with lots of laughs and great fun for the whole family. If nothing else, you’ll want to visit Hawaiian to get a taste of the island life.
You can stream Finding ‘Ohana on Netflix now.
Director: Jude Weng
Written By: Christina Strain
Produced by Ian Bryce, p.g.a.
Executive Producers: Irene Yeung, JJ Hook
Cast: Kea Peahu, Alex Aiono, Lindsay Watson, Owen Vaccaro, with Kelly Hu and Branscombe Richmond, Ke Huy Quan, Brad Kalilimoku, Chris Parnell, Marc Evan Jackson, Ricky Garcia.