OUT OF STATE screening & Filmmaker Q&A

Program type: 
Saturday, October 14, 2023 - 2:00pm to 4:00pm
Screening and Q&A with Filmmaker, Ciara Leina‘ala Lacy, and Featured Gentlemen, Hale Gualdarama 
Saturday October 14th, 2-4pm in the Kahua ʻElua Theatre

Shipped thousands of miles away from the tropical islands of Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two Native Hawaiians discover their Native traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. Eager to prove themselves forever changed for the better, they return home to the struggle of life post-incarceration, asking the question: can you really go home again?

While roughly eight million tourists flock to Hawaii to vacation each year, the idyllic image of paradise is tenuous for its indigenous Hawaiian population, who rate last on many measures of socio-economic status in their own home. Perhaps most distressing is that 40% of the inmates or parolees in the state are native Hawaiians, while Hawaiians represent only 25% of the overall population. Thus, native Hawaiians, like other communities of color in the U.S., are struggling from an overrepresentation in the current structure of the criminal justice system. In fact, in 2010, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, a State of Hawaii governmental agency, released a report admitting a negative bias exists against native Hawaiians in the state’s justice system. In addition, since 1995, Hawaii has shipped male prisoners thousands of miles away to the continental U.S., likely the most extreme example of prisoner exportation out of state, to for- profit prisons, due to overcrowding. OUT OF STATE chronicles the experience of native Hawaiian inmates at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Arizona, which was built specifically to house men convicted of crimes in Hawaii.

Director’s Statement

The first time I walked into the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona I cried.

There, in the middle of a dusty prison recreation yard, were 100 men chanting my entrance into the facility. Prior to arriving, I had reasonable concerns about filming in prison and had been advised by mentors to love my subjects but to also be cautious given their histories. Every expectation I had was immediately thrown out the door when I saw these men chanting in varying shades of traditional Hawaiian dress and prison uniforms. Caught off guard, I did the only thing I knew how to do; I chanted back.

As a native Hawaiian, the metaphor of our cultural practices behind bars was immediately overwhelming, evoking profound resentment for the ramifications of the colonization of our people. To date, we struggle at the bottom rung of so many socio-economic factors in our own lands, including a striking overabundance of our people populating local and distant prisons. Sadly, this is not new information about our community. However, what captured me in this prison space was the humanity and connection between men. If, in this most unlikely location, thousands upon thousands of miles away from home, they could discover their native culture from each other and create a bond, so much more was possible. And it still is.

OUT OF STATE is meant to be more than a documentary; it is meant to give face to the hundreds of natives shipped to faraway prisons but who remain hopeful to return home to a fresh start. My deepest gratitude to those brave enough to share their stories. This film has truly been my kuleana, the native Hawaiian word for responsibility, and I hope it can be part of a movement toward healing.

Ciara Leina`ala Lacy is a writer-director whose Native Hawaiian identity drives the intimacy and authenticity in her work. Her films have shown at Sundance and Berlinale as well as on platforms including Netflix, PBS, ABC, Al Jazeera, and the Criterion Collection. She has also consulted for Ubisoft, Pixar, and Quibi. Notably, she is the inaugural Sundance Institute Merata Mita Fellow and her work has been supported by Sundance, Tribeca, Nia Tero, the Princess Grace Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, Pacific Islanders in Communications, and Firelight Media. She continues to work on documentary content for broadcast and streaming while expanding her intimate style of filmmaking into the branded content, animation, and narrative spaces.

Out of State Teaser from Ciara Lacy on Vimeo.

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