Pacific Islander Films on PBS and WORLD Channel this May

"Pacific Heartbeat" Season 8 Films includes "Prison Songs," "Leitis in Waiting," "Te Kuhane o te Tupuna," and "Corridor Four."

In celebration of Asian Pacific American Heritage Month (also known as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month), Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC) is presenting several programs on PBS and WORLD Channel. Their award-winning program, “Pacific Heartbeat,” is back in its 8th season with new independent films from the Pacific Islands, and beyond.

“We are thrilled to present the eighth season of this signature series that showcases the lives and experiences of Pacific Islanders, here in the U.S and around the world,” said Leanne Ferrer, Executive Director of Pacific Islanders in Com­­munications. “The Pacific Heartbeat series enriches people’s hearts and minds by sharing the stories of this growing global diaspora with the world.”

Pacific Heartbeat is presented through a partnership between Pacific Islanders in Communications and PBS Hawaiʻi, and is distributed by Boston-based American Public Television and broadcast nationally on WORLD Channel (a service of WGBH, Boston), in addition to hundreds of scheduled broadcasts on local PBS stations.

Pacific Heartbeat is an anthology series that provides viewers a glimpse of the real Pacific—its people, cultures, languages, music, and contemporary issues. From revealing exposés to rousing musical performances, the series features a diverse array of programs that will draw viewers into the heart and soul of Pacific Island culture.

This season’s films include an encore broadcast Let’s Play Music! Slack Key with Cyril Pahinui and Friends, to honor the memory of the “crown prince of Hawaiian Slack-Key,” Cyril Pahinui, who passed away on November 17, 2018. This episode originally aired on Pacific Heartbeat in 2013.

Films are selected each year from among numerous submissions, including projects funded by PIC with support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Prison Songs

Maximum Security Prison Berrimah Darwin SBS
07th May 2014

By Kelrick Martin and Harry Bardwell

The people imprisoned in a Darwin jail are shown in a unique and completely new light in Australia’s first ever documentary musical. Incarcerated in tropical Northern Territory, over 800 inmates squeeze into the overcrowded spaces of Berrimah Prison. In an Australian first, the inmates share their feelings, faults and experiences in the most extraordinary way – through song.

Leitis in Waiting (Catch Leitis in Waiting on the big screen at CAAMFest!)

By Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson

Leitis in Waiting tells the story of Tonga’s evolving approach to gender fluidity through a character-driven portrait of the most prominent leiti (transgender) in the Kingdom, Joey Mataele, a devout Catholic of royal descent.  Over the course of an eventful year, Joey organizes a beauty pageant, mentors a young leiti who is rejected by her family, and attempts to work with fundamentalist Christians regarding Tonga’s anti-sodomy and cross-dressing laws.  Her story reveals what it means to be different in a deeply religious and conservative society, and what it takes to be accepted without giving up who you are.

Te Kuhane o te Tupuna

By Leonardo Pakarati and Paula Rossetti

This documentary film is a journey from Easter Island to London, in search of the lost Moai Hoa Haka Nanaia, a statue of significant cultural importance. It explores the social and political landscape of the island of Rapanui as the people attempt to claim back what is rightfully theirs: their land and a lava-rock image of tremendous presence, representing one of the world’s most extraordinary cosmological views.

Corridor Four

By Stephen Tringali and Maria Bissell

A nationally recognized K9 Unit Officer, Isaac Ho‘opi‘i is responsible for saving numerous people from the Pentagon during the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Countless articles were written about his heroism following 9/11. He was photographed by Richard Avedon for a spread in USA Today.  He appeared on NBC’s Today Show. And he ran the Olympic Torch on its way to Salt Lake City for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Corridor Four is a documentary that illustrates Isaac’s story in the aftermath of 9/11.  After all the news cameras had turned off and all the lights had dimmed, Isaac was left only with the horrific images he had seen and the memory of those he was unable to save.  His is a story not of a hero basking in the glory of his past deeds, but of a human being filled with regret that he couldn’t change something completely out of his control.

Let’s Play Music! Slack Key with Cyril Pahinui and Friends (ENCORE BROADCAST)

By Na’alehu Anthony

Master slack key musician Cyril Pahinui, jams with some of the most revered and talented musicians in Hawai‘i in intimate kanikapila style backyard performances.  Cyril was the son of Gabby “Pop” Pahinui, who is considered the “Godfather” of Hawaiian slack key guitar and whose music was featured prominently in the Academy Award winning film, The Descendants.  Cyril Pahinui passed away on November 17, 2018; this encore broadcast is dedicated to him.