May 26, 2022

SCREEN | Spending 'Every Day in Kaimukī' x LAAPFF 2022

"You smell like skateboarding [...] sweat and arrested development."
Naz Kawakami Alika Tengan | Every Day in Kaimukī | LAAPFF 2022
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival
Filmed and set on the Island of Oahu featuring a native Hawaiian cast and crew, co-writer/director Alika Tengan crafts Every Day in Kaimukī into a laidback, slice-of-life docu-dramedy reminiscent of Richard Linklater's early works. Captured through a naturalistic, documentary-like style lens, the lo-fi indie film casually explores its characters' sense of belonging amidst a backdrop of what many consider to be an isolated paradise.

Naz Kawakami (also co-writer) and Rina White star as a young couple, late night radio DJ Naz and ceramicist Sloane, who are about to move away from the only home they have ever known, the titular suburban neighbourhood of Honolulu, for brighter opportunities in New York City. Filmed during the pandemic, characters nonchalantly acknowledge certain familiar realities like mask-wearing and other aspects of contemporary life in conversation without addressing it too much further.

There's an inviting interior visual language framed by cinematographer Chapin Hall who shoots Kaimukī as a moody, contained environment away from the shinier or familiar getaway locales. Suburban Honolulu seems like a fine background for a low-key, young adult relationship drama full of hyperrealistic micro-aggressions. Its themes of leaving home and getting stuck while being pulled to stay where it's easy or comfortable feel fully realized and true to life.

Its looseness is credited to a cast of mostly non-professional actors playing thinly-veiled versions of themselves in addition to a commitment to a very specific aesthetic. Every element of Every Day in Kaimukī on-screen seems somehow both carefully constructed yet simultaneously happened upon accidentally in the moment. This balance and casual sheen of native Hawaiian authenticity are what makes the film so appealing and watchable.

Every Day in Kaimukī screened at the 2022 Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival as part of the Pacific Cinewaves program.

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