a film by Anthony Banua-Simon
The Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi is seen as a paradise of leisure and pristine natural beauty, but these escapist fantasies obscure the colonial displacement, hyper-exploitation of workers and destructive environmental extraction that have actually shaped life on the island for the last 250 years. Cane Fire critically examines the island’s history — and the various strategies by which Hollywood has represented it—through four generations of director Anthony Banua-Simon’s family, who first immigrated to Kauaʻi from the Philippines to work on the sugar plantations. Assembled from a diverse array of sources—from Banua-Simon’s observational footage, to amateur YouTube travelogues, to epic Hollywood dance sequences — Cane Fire offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the economic and cultural forces that have cast Indigenous and working-class residents as "extras" in their own story.
"An indispensable watch, Banua-Simon’s first feature focuses on the island of Kauaʻi and the history of its exploitation as a colony, which endures under the guise of statehood."
-Carlos Aguilar, The Wrap
"[A] tale as old as America: vicious colonialism, greedy capitalism, rampant racism, and the erasure of local histories for exploitative ends."
-Robert Daniels, RogerEbert.com
"Through original and deftly assembled archival footage, Anthony Banua-Simon's debut documentary feature CANE FIRE considers the long arc of white, corporate economic & cultural pillaging of Hawaii."
- Patrick Dahl, Screen Slate
"A necessary corrective to the perception of Hawaiian identity that diagnoses the problem of representation in pop culture through the filmmaker’s own deeply personal lens."
-Eric Kohn, Indiewire
"CANE FIRE uncovers not one, but several underreported histories at the same time with equal parts reverence, relevance, and rage."
-Andrew Parker, The Gate
Press Kit and High-Res Stills
Where to watch
May 19: Amherst Cinema - Amherst, MA
May 20: Brooklyn Academy of Music - Brooklyn, NY
May 22: DC Labor FilmFest - Washington, DC
May 24: Grand Cinema - Tacoma, WA
June 1-5: Dairy Center for the Arts - Boulder, CO
June 2 & 7: Suns Cinema - Washington, DC
June 3: Lumiere Cinema - Los Angeles, CA
June 4-15: Northwest Film Forum - Seattle, WA
June 17: Cinema Detroit - Detroit, MI
June 21-23: Guild Cinema - Albuquerque, NM
June 22-23: Belcourt Theatre - Nashville, TN
Festivals & Awards
Official Selection - 2021 MoMA Doc Fortnight
Official Selection - 2020 Hot Docs International Film Festival
Official Selection - 2021 Prismatic Ground (Maysles Documentary Center and Screen Slate)
Official Selection - 2021 DOXA Documentary Film Festival
Official Selection - 2020 Hawaiʻi International Film Festival
Official Selection - 2021 Asian American International Film Festival
Winner -"Best Feature Documentary" - 2020 Indie Memphis Film Festival
Winner -"Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature" - 2021 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Winner-"Jason D. Mak Award for Social Justice" - 2021 DisOrient Asian American Film Festival of Oregon
Winner -"Vijay Mohan Social Change Award" - 2021 Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival