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two people putting their heads together
From A Tale of Two Sisters: The two sisters experiencing reconciliation.

A made-in-Hawaiʻi short film premiering at the 2022 Hawaiʻi International Film Festival is produced by two real-life sisters; about two fictional sisters; and is based on two of Hawaiʻi’s most famous sisters, the deity Pele and her younger sibling, Hiʻiakaikapoliopele or Hiʻiaka.

A Tale of Two Sisters blends narrative and movement-based storytelling to convey how the two main characters, Gigi and Angi, embark on a journey to overcome the tension in their relationship and better understand their cultural identities.

person consoling another person who is lying down
From A Tale of Two Sisters: Pele supporting Hiʻiaka before they embark on their journey.

The eight-minute film is choreographed and produced by Brigitte Leilani Axelrode, who is pursuing a graduate certificate in Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences. In 2017, she earned her BFA in Communication Studies and Dance from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.

The film’s director, writer, editor and producer is Brigitte’s younger sister, Angelique Kalani Axelrode, who earned her BS from Vanderbilt University in 2021.

“This film was born out of my sister’s and my distinct yet simultaneous journeys to understand and learn more about Native Hawaiian culture,” said Angelique. “Creating the film together was incredibly cathartic.”

Other UH students involved in the film are producer Iolani Brosio, a PhD student in the Department of English at UH Mānoa who was Brigitte’s kumu (teacher/instructor) at UH Maui College; and filmmaker Josiah Castillo, a BFA candidate in digital cinema at UH Mānoa.

A Tale of Two Sisters will premiere in the “Made in Hawaiʻi Short Program 1” at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 4, at the Consolidated Theatres in Kahāla, and may be viewed virtually from November 14–27. See the HIFF website for more information.

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