Senators seek overthrow of ‘Princess’ film tax help
A movie about the life of Princess Kaiulani is being criticized as historically inaccurate and culturally insensitive by Democratic and Republican members of the state Senate.
In a letter circulated yesterday by Sen. Clayton Hee and signed by 16 senators, "The Last Princess" was questioned for taking state tax credits.
"Many members of the community wish to be assured that Princess Kaiulani and Iolani Palace will not be tarnished and exploited," said the senators' letter, addressed to Donne Dawson, state film commissioner.
In a speech on the Senate floor yesterday, Hee (D, Kaneohe-Kahuku) said Abigail Kawananakoa is the last princess of Hawaiian royalty.
"Who cares how Hawaiians feel -- that is the issue. Princess Abigail Kinoiki Kekaulike Kawananakoa, she is the last princess. I wonder how she feels," Hee said.
In a speech calling for an investigation of what tax credits the movie will be able to claim, Hee said the movie is dishonest.
"The grade-C movie being filmed at Iolani Palace should properly describe what it is, an inaccurate and insensitive depiction, an extension of the treatment of others towards the host culture at the expense of the treatment of each of us taxpayers," Hee said.
Dawson said she had discussed the issues with Hee and told him that the title of the film was "only a working title and was not the definitive, final title." Also, Dawson said, the film had hired "several Hawaiian consultants who are experts in Hawaiian language and culture."
"This project is a dramatic feature and it is not intended to be a documentary," Dawson said, adding that she could not comment on any tax credits the production might claim.
The letter from the Senate said the film originally was titled "The Barbarian Princess" and that by using Iolani Palace, the film purports to be a true depiction of the time.
The $9 million movie is be being produced by Matador Pictures and Trailblazer Films. A spokesman, Ricardo Galindez of Island Film Group, said producers had already changed the title to satisfy critics, but did not know about Hee's new criticism.
"We are working with many people in the community for years now and with cultural advisers," Galindez said.