JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Hakipu'u Learning Center students Caitlin Frias, 16, second from left, Jene'e Pilayo, 14, and Noa Helela, 13, under the guidance of Kathy Xian, far left, made a documentary on sexual violence in local schools. The short will screen at GiRL FeST Hawaii.
Foray into film
Hakipu'u Learning Center students take a shot at making a movie on sexual violence in Hawaii's schools
Teenagers Caitlin Frias, Jene'e Pilayo and Noa Helela were putting the final touches last week on "Learning in Fear: Sexual Violence in Hawaii's Schools," which screens Nov. 16 at 7:30 p.m. at the Honolulu Academy of Arts as part of GiRL FeST Hawaii's film festival.
The short film will show before the feature, "Stephanie Daley," starring festival guest Amber Tamblyn.
The young filmmakers are students of Hakipu'u Learning Center, a public Hawaiian charter school located on the campus of Windward Community College. At the prompting of their teacher, Weston Willard, and with the help of their filmmaking mentor, GiRL FeST Hawaii's "non-executive director," Kathy Xian, the students made their first foray into making a short if challenging documentary. They were joined by Daniel Walker-Baker, who has since graduated.
"They took care of the content, they did their own research, put together the questions and did the interviews with the students and experts," Xian said.
Besides gathering first-hand observations from girls, the Hakipu'u students spoke to sex-assault prevention educator Christy Werner and University of Hawaii women's studies professor and feminist criminologist Meda Chesney-Lind about dating violence and sexual assaults in local public schools.
"It's a problem in our own environment and it needs to be addressed," Caitlin said.
"We hope our film will help girls to better understand how to deal with sexual violence," Jene'e added.
"This is all part of the outreach philosophy of GiRL FeST," Xian said, "where we can ideally partner with other charter schools that have under-served students, like Hakipu'u. It makes for a mutually beneficial arrangement both ways."
"So we want people to come see our film and come learn with us," Jene'e said.
RELATED to GiRL FeST's outreach theme, but not tied to the festival itself, is Farrington T-Shirt Theatre's production of "DesperadO!" Affiliated with the longtime Alliance for Drama Education, the student musical is described as a "romance with intelligence in an age of sexually transmitted disease."
After seeing a preview performance, STD/AIDS prevention coordinator Nancy Kern of the Department of Health commented, "It was obvious the student cast was having fun while taking seriously the responsibility of communicating about HIV/STDs and caring for the health of themselves and their friends."
"DesperadO!" will have two public performances at Farrington High School Auditorium, at 7:30 p.m. Friday and 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free. Call 941-9311.