Hawaiian Documentary “Aloha From Lavaland” Chronicles Near Disaster


Hawaiian anthropological documentary “Aloha From Lavaland” follows the aftermath of the 2014 eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, which sent a flow of lava directly toward the center of Pahoa, a small rural town on the Big Island of Hawai’i. Hard to predict and impossible to stop, the flow threatened to cut off the town’s only access road, leaving the residents of this remote community to rely heavily on one another as they prepare for possible isolation.

Photo Credit: The Atlantic

Personally, as a long time resident of Kona, hearing the almost daily updates from Hawaii Civil Defense on the radio as the lava inched closer to Pahoa and hearing how CNN journalists were arriving to capture this disaster for the masses, it seemed there would be no stopping the lava’s march to the ocean. BUT..it stopped. Just stopped. I always wondered how it must have felt for the people who live in East Hawaii. This film gives you an amazing and insightful look into what happened.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/137184577

Produced in conjunction by Gift Culture Media, Larkin Pictures and Pure Mother Love, this 55 minute documentary explores an inner community perspective of the lava flow, following residents as they ask and answer important questions about community, sustainability, harmony, and what it really means to live in such an unpredictable paradise.

In addition to street interviews and news coverage, the documentary follows a local Hawaiian kumu (healer), a sustainability expert and the leader of a sovereign Hawaiian community over a period of seven months as they attempt to prepare for the unpreparable.

“Puna is unlike any place I’ve ever lived,” says co-director Suzenne Seradwyn, who has created films in Los Angeles, New Mexico and Hawaii. “The people here have different values because of the natural elements at play, and the rich cultural history surrounding those elements. There is a very important message to share about what happens when you allow yourself to trust these elements.”

This film is important for anyone living in a state of change, whether it be due to external elements or an internal shift,” says the film’s co-director, Phillips Payson. “Part of what this film explores is how one’s attitude toward change can make all the difference.” Before moving to the Big Island, Payson worked in the film industry in New York and Los Angeles. This is his fourth film.

I had a chance to ask Phillips Payson for a little more insight into the film. I wanted to know what he wanted people to take away from the film and what his personal thoughts were when the lava was heading toward Pahoa.

“I hope people are inspired to get involved in their own communities after viewing the film. Our film explores how the community in Puna is the key to living a sustainable lifestyle. I hope people recognize that idea and consider how they can engage with their own networks to stimulate a more local lifestyle.”

“My initial reaction to the flow stopping so close to the road was relief for the safety of my community. I felt such pride to belong to a community which came together in the face of such uncertainty. That was quickly followed by an overwhelming sense of humility at the mercy of nature’s raw power.”

The movie is available now at www.alohafromlavaland.com.

The film will be also be released on Amazon and iTunes on November 15th.

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Meet the Author

Julie Ziemelis

Julie Ziemelis is an entrepreneur, business owner, author, blogger and vlogger in Kailua Kona. She created and moderates the “365 Things to Do in Kona” page and the Kona Newbies group on Facebook. She blogs at 365Kona.com and MoveToHawaii365.com and vlogs with her husband, Eric, at “365Hawaii” on YouTube. Julie also authored the books, “How to Move to Kona” and the “Insiders Guide to Buying Real Estate on the Big Island of Hawaii”. You will most likely find Julie in Kona hiking, running, biking, taking photos and sharing Aloha.

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