This Is the Way We Rise

Director: Ciara Lacy

2019 | USA | 12m | English, Native Hawaiian

A portrait of Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio, a Kanaka Maoli wahine poet, activist, and academic, and her continued work towards justice for Hawaii’s native population.

Starring: Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio

Playing in shorts program: Stand Up, Be Heard

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Ciara Lacy

Ciara Lacy is a kanaka maoli (native Hawaiian) filmmaker, whose interest lies in crafting films that use strong characters and investigative journalism to challenge the creative and political status quo. Her work has shown at festivals around the world including Sundance and Berlinale as well as on Netflix, PBS, ABC, Al Jazeera, and the Criterion Collection. In the digital space, she has created content for the Guardian and the Atlantic Online. She was the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow as well as part of the inaugural class of NATIVe Fellows at the European Film Market. Ciara holds a BA in Psychology from Yale University and has given talks at academic institutions across the U.S. She continues to work on documentary content for broadcast and digital while also expanding her intimate style of filmmaking into the branded content and commercial spaces.

Director's Statement

Last summer, I watched in awe as the protection of sacred sites atop Maunakea, a fight spanning over 50 years, set my community on fire. Native Hawaiians paraded by the thousands in protest, stood on street corners sign waiving across America, drove down freeways horns honking with the Hawaiian flag flipped upside down in distress. It was an empowering moment of mass unity beyond my wildest dreams and to somehow be there alongside slam poet, activist, and academic Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio felt like the hand of providence.

When measured from its under water base, Maunakea is the tallest mountain on Planet Earth and home to one of the most sacred collection of sites in the Hawaiian islands. Incidentally, it also boasts near ideal conditions for astronomical research, drawing scientists from around the world to this unique locale. Over 11 countries have interest in the telescopes atop this mountain. But what benefit does this serve the Native people who this land rightfully belongs to? Multiple State funded audits and Enviromental Impact assesments have shown that those currently managing the land have failed to suitably care for it, and the Native community has yet to be appropriately compesenated for land use, despite a contract mandating this. When an international conglomerate known at the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) stepped in to add yet one more telescope, one many times larger than the already startling array of littering the top of Maunakea, Native Hawaiians reached their limit. Enough was enough.

THIS IS THE WAY WE RISE was always meant to be an exploration into the creative process of one of Hawai`iʻs most promising Native talents but when the protection of Maunakea ignited amongst our people it became so much more. It was the awakening of Jamaicaʻs creativity alongside the awakening of our community, and this film now serves as a powerful record of not only one personʻs journey towards actualization but also that of a people. As we say, Kū kia`i mauana!, or defend and protect Maunakea– for our ancestors, for those alive today, and for future generations.

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