The Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi is seen as a paradise of leisure and pristine natural beauty, but these escapist fantasies obscure the colonial displacement, hyper-exploitation of workers and destructive environmental extraction that have actually shaped life on the island for the last 250 years. CANE FIRE critically examines the island’s history — and the various strategies by which Hollywood has represented it — through four generations of director Anthony Banua-Simon’s family, who first immigrated to Kauaʻi from the Philippines to work on the sugar plantations. Assembled from a diverse array of sources — from Banua-Simon’s observational footage, to amateur YouTube travelogues, to epic Hollywood dance sequences — CANE FIRE offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of the economic and cultural forces that have cast Indigenous and working-class residents as “extras” in their own story.
"Through original and deftly assembled archival footage, Anthony Banua-Simon's debut documentary feature CANE FIRE considers the long arc of white, corporate economic and cultural pillaging of Hawaii." —Patrick Dahl, Screen Slate "A necessary corrective to the perception of Hawaiian identity that diagnoses the problem of representation in pop culture through the filmmaker’s own deeply personal lens." —Eric Kohn, Indiewire