Categorized | Entertainment, Featured

Kona filmmakers present ‘The Land of Eb’

Karin Stanton | Hawaii 24/7 Editor

Two Kona filmmakers are eager to present their latest work at the Big Island Film Festival.

Director Andrew Williamson and writer/producer John Hill, who met while students at University of the Nations, give much of the credit to Jonithen Jackson for inspiring ‘The Land of Eb.’

Speaking at Thursday evening’s welcome reception at The Fairmont Orchid, Williamson and Hill said their movie only came into focus after they met Jackson and were struck by his passion for telling stories of the Marshallese people.

“He kept telling us that making movies and telling stories of the Marshallese was something he wanted to do more than anything else,” Williamson said. “After all the hardship he and the Marshallese people had endured, specifically at the hands of the U.S., you couldn’t detect even a shred of bitterness. His resilience was moving and in this we saw a story worth telling.”

Hill said the duo already were interested in the topic, but struggled to find a focus.

“The first script was completed in under a month. Then we threw it out and started again, not on a second draft but a completely new story. This happened a couple of times. I don’t recommend the process,” Hill said. “I remember Andrew literally banging his head against a wall at one point.”

As the filmmakers’ relationship with Jonithen grew, the story difficulties dissipated.

“From then on each iteration of the script began to mirror the realities of Marshallese life in Hawaii more closely. Letting some of our creative preconceptions die ended up giving the story a vitality and sometimes strangeness that we couldn’t have created on our own,” Hill said.

Once the script was ready, they began looking for Marshallese actors. Finding none, they turned once again to Jackson, eventually casting him and many members of his family. Many of the scenes are in the Mashallese language.

“We wanted to convey a strong sense of realism through the characters in their environment and sort of let the story breathe on its own,” Williamson said. “We shot everything on location in Kailua Kona and Ocean View.”

Hill said he is grateful for the experience and appreciates the generosity of the entire Marshallese community.

“As in the script phase, flexibility is mandatory in low-budget film production and over the course of the shoot our amazing crew dealt with a number of heart-stopping near disasters. But what I’ll always remember is the kindness of Jonithen, his family and the greater Marshallese community in Ocean View,” he said. “They were so generous toward the film crew that invaded their homes and kept them awake during late night shoots.”

Williamson said he wanted to tell a personal story, rather than just highlight the issue.

“Although the subject of the Marshallese in America raises some very important global issues concerning the effects of nuclear proliferation, I wanted the film to be about something greater than just an issue,” Williamson said. “There is definitely a need for awareness though and my hope is that through the simple story of one man, the important issues will reveal themselves and thus impact the viewer more profoundly.”

The film will be screened at 9:30 p.m. Friday, May 24 at The Fairmont Orchid Plantation Estate.

Film Synopsis

Living in the stark volcanic landscape of one of the most remote Hawaiian communities, Jacob, an immigrant father and grandfather, struggles to provide for his large family.

When Jacob overhears a cancer diagnosis from his doctor he keeps the news to himself, forgoing treatment in favor of working to pay off his property which he plans to pass down once he’s gone. As Jacob’s search for work becomes more desperate however, he enters into a dubious agreement with a coffee farmer who promises him the money he needs.

His sickness getting worse and the new job beginning to fall apart, Jacob is left with few options. Sensing his own end, Jacob turns a small video camera on himself and begins to record his story—and that of his people, the Marshallese.

A hauntingly beautiful affirmation of family, ‘The Land of Eb’ brings full circle the consequences of man’s destructive nature and lasting effects of the nuclear age with the honor and dignity of love tinged with hope.

— Find out more:

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.



Become a fan on facebook



%d bloggers like this: