“We must and we can teach everyone about the aloha spirit,” he says in the film.
The moments of cultural realization in the film added richness to the story. Kapahulehua’s perspective anchors the documentary and he is the clear source of culture and inspiration for the other characters.
To reach their goal, HOCVS worked around the clock, each teammate paddling 1-hour shifts a few times a day. The film takes you on the journey with the team by providing outrigger footage, on-ship testimonials, and scenes to parallel real-time events. This proved an effective strategy that keeps the audience engaged with the characters.
Three members of the team and two people from the production crew were present at the filming on Sunday night. They modestly answered questions about the excursion after the screening.
The film was dedicated to Kendall Struxness, a paddler who died of stage four colon cancer shortly after completing the voyage. He refused to stay at home for the trip and made it to the end of the journey despite severe physical pain and exhaustion.
In the film, Struxness said he found strength because the team wanted him there. “Family of the Wa’a” presents the story of one big paddling ohana that celebrates Hawaiian culture and supports one another to the very end.