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‘Hawaiian’ West Coast Premiere at Malibu International Film Festival

2009 September 8 SPT - Eddie Aikau, March 1978. Property of Star-Bulletin.

 

Malibu Film Festival

» Where: Malibu, CA
» When: October 12, 2013
» Info: www.malibufilmfestival.org
» Note: Advanced Tickets on sale now.

Everybody in Hawaii knows Eddie would go, and T-shirts and bumper stickers from Sandy Beach to Wai­mea Bay offer daily proof.

But it turns out a lot of people — even some of today’s professional surfers — have no idea why he went.

Documentary filmmaker Sam George understood that when fellow filmmaker Stacy Peralta asked him three years ago if he felt there was enough to Eddie Aikau’s life and times to make a movie.

“I said not only is there a great story, it is the greatest story never told,” George said in a phone call from his home in Malibu, Calif.

So George told it. He said he found the Eddie few know and in the process found an allegory for the Hawaiian Renaissance.

His new film, “Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau,” will hold it's west coast premiere at the Malibu Film Festival Saturday, October 12, 2013 with a screening and after party under the stars.

The film uses family photos, historical footage and little-known personal history to reveal an intimate portrait of Aikau.

“What is exciting is when you get a chance to tell people something deeper than what they thought they knew,” said George, a 57-year-old former editor of Surfing and Surfer magazines.

“Our film is not just about Eddie,” he said. “It places him in the context of contemporary Hawaiian culture. The Aikau family is the story of Hawaii.”

Aikau, a big-wave surfer and lifeguard without peer, is arguably the most legendary Hawaiian of modern times. He died a hero trying to save his friends as they clung to the capsized hull of the voyaging canoe Hoku­le‘a in 1978.

But 35 years after his death, Aikau is better known for the prestigious surf contest held in his honor. The Quiksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau, which markets the phrase “Eddie Would Go,” is held only when the waves at Wai­mea Bay are at least 20 feet.

Although a biography was published in 2002 — Stuart Coleman’s “Eddie Would Go: The Story of Eddie Aikau, Hawaiian Hero” — there have been no major profiles in the surfing press and nothing done on film, said George.

“Here’s a family, a Hawaiian family, with one foot in the past and one in the present,” George said. “And Eddie bridged that. He was very contemporary, but he also reflected a traditional Hawaiian culture that in modern times had been seriously marginalized.”

WHEN GEORGE started working on the film, a lot of people told him there were no photos or footage of Aikau surfing, but none of them “had dug very deep,” he said.

George found photos among the collections of older surf photographers and TV film clips that aired on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports,” which regularly covered the Duke Kaha­na­moku Invitational Surfing Championships in Hawaii. Aikau won that contest in 1977, and his brother Clyde, who is also a Wai­mea Bay lifeguard and pro surfer, was the 1973 winner.

But the real gold mine was under the Aikau family home in Pauoa. George had heard there was supposed to be a crate full of family memorabilia stashed there, but nothing prepared the filmmaker for what Aikau’s sister, Myra, brought out: hundreds of family photographs and yellowed newspaper clippings of the surfer’s achievements.

“For a documentary filmmaker, that was like King Tut’s tomb,” George said. “That is what brings the film to life, that intimate look at Eddie.”

INTERVIEW BY MIKE GORDON

 

About Malibu International Film Festival

David Katz
(Malibu Film Foundation)

Malibu

United States



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