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Collage of six women
From left to right, top to bottom: filmmakers Zoë Eisenberg, Joy Chong-Stannard, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Joan Lander, Kimberlee Bassford, Meleanna Aluli Meyer

Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi, a local television show about Hawaiʻi filmmakers, won an Emmy Award on June 3. The show, co-produced by Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu lecturer Vera Zambonelli and Shirley Thompson, won in the category Historical/Cultural—News or Long Form Content. The 52nd Northern California Area Emmy Awards 2022–2023 (PDF), which honors excellence in television, were held by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences in San Francisco, California.

Two women wearing lei and smiling
Shirley Thompson and Vera Zambonelli

The Emmy went to the third season of the Reel Wāhine series, a compilation of six short films that showcase the work of veteran Hawaiʻi filmmakers. Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi 3 aired in March 2022 on PBS Hawaiʻi and is currently streaming for a limited time on PBS Hawaiʻi’s website.

Zambonelli, who teaches Creative Media (CM) 401: Creative Professionals and CM 150: Film Analysis and Storytelling courses, directed two of the six short films. Another of the short films was directed by Heather H. Giugni, cultural collections specialist and producer at ʻUluʻulu: The Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi at UH West Oʻahu.

The series is produced by Honolulu-based non-profit Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking (HWF), whose mission is to create more opportunities for women in front of and behind the camera, according to a press release. The films are told through the eyes of Hawaiʻi-based female directors and crafted by all-women film crews.

“Each season of Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi spotlights the work and creative inspirations of six Hawaiʻi women filmmakers,” Thompson said in a press release. “We tell the stories of women who have produced and directed well-known local films as well as camerawomen, editors and animators behind the scenes whose creativity helps bring local films to life.”

Zambonelli, who is also the founder and executive director of HWF, added, “It’s so important that we document and celebrate the pioneering women who paved the way and helped build the local independent film industry, as well as new rising stars who continue to create groundbreaking work.”

—by Zenaida Serrano Arvman
Read more at Ka Puna o Kaloʻi.

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