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Jamojaya premiered at Sundance Film Festival

Movie stars such as Anne Hathaway and Brooke Shields were among celebrities and filmmakers flocking to Park City and Salt Lake City, Utah this month for the return of the Sundance Film Festival. They were among thousands celebrating the debut of independent films that included a feature that University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Academy for Creative Media (ACM) system founder Chris Lee and ACM alumnus Reynolds Barney helped to bring to the screen.

“Being able to showcase my work on such a big stage and having the opportunity to connect with other filmmakers and industry professionals is truly special,” Barney said.

Two people smiling
From left, Reynolds Barney and Chris Lee attend the world-famous festival in Utah

Barney edited while Lee served as executive producer on Jamojaya, a film about an aspiring Indonesian rapper recording his U.S. debut album at a Hawaiʻi resort all while trying to tame the demands of a suffocating father and the music industry. The drama feature was co-written and directed by Justin Chon, a familiar face to Twilight movie buffs who commonly praise him for his role as Eric Yorkie. Jamojaya premiered at Sundance on January 22 and was scheduled for six screenings. This marks the third year in a row works by alumni from the UH Mānoa filmmaking academy were featured.

“Sundance is the most competitive film festival in the U.S.,” said Lee. “Getting into Sundance is a universal metric of quality and shows that ACM‘s film school at UH Mānoa can compete with all the schools on the continent.”

Out of 15,855 film submissions, only 110 feature length narratives and documentaries were chosen for this year’s festival, according to Sundance. ACM is no stranger to the prestigious festival. In 2021, UH Mānoa ACM grad Alika Maikau’s Everyday in Kaimuki was selected, and in 2020 UH Mānoa alumnus Christopher Makoto Yogi’s I Was A Simple Man was featured, as well.

Two people hugging
Reynolds Barney with director Justin Chon

“As graduates of the first majority NHAAPI [Native Hawaiian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander] creative media school in the world, I could not be prouder of previous ACM Sundance directors Christopher Yogi, Alika Tengan and editor Reynolds Barney as well as all of our graduates,” Lee added.

Barney graduated from UH Mānoa’s ACM in 2014 and began editing professionally after making the move to Los Angeles. The ʻEwa Beach native credits the academy for teaching him the importance of collaboration and communication.

“We are delighted and proud that ACM alumnus, Reynolds Barney, is continuing to shine as an editor,” said Anne Misawa, associate professor at ACM Mānoa. “He’s setting a high standard of excellence for our students to inspire to.”

Barney just completed a short film, “The Roof” directed by fellow UH Mānoa ACM alumnus Alexander Bocchieri, which is set for release soon on Disney+.

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