Photo of Chris Kahunahana by Aaron Yoshino


Local filmmaker and Sundance Native Lab fellow Chris Kahunahana sat down with us to talk with about “Lāhainā Noon,” his upcoming short film now in post-production. Kahunahana, the founder of Nextdoor nightclub in Chinatown, now devotes his time fully to his production company, 4th World Film.

FLUX: What were you working on today?

Kahunahana: Today, because we launch our Kickstarter for “Lāhainā Noon,” we’ve been doing a lot of marketing and promotion. We’ve been working, I mean, every day, all day, every night on editing, so we have a final, rough edit, and we’re working on sound design and actually putting in all the sounds.

Do you hire your crew by the project or do you have go-to guys in 4th World Film?

It’s all by the project. And on “Lāhainā Noon”—it’s a short film that we’ve been wanting to make for a long time—we were actually really, really blessed and lucky to have an amazingly talented crew. And everyone’s working for free, it’s just that everyone wanted to make something that they thought is special, and we feel that it is. It’s pretty damn good. Since there’s no financial incentive for anybody—and we’re not trying to sell this film in any way—people were really free to collaborate and experiment and try to come up with unique ideas.

So what is it, “Lāhainā Noon”?

“Lāhainā Noon” is a short story that I wrote, and I’m directing the movie. Lāhainā noon is a solar phenomenon that takes place in Hawai‘i twice a year. It’s when the sun is actually directly overhead in Hawai‘i, and an upright object—or a person—won’t cast a shadow. We mixed that with psychologist Carl Jung’s theories on the shadow-self, which he believed represented an individual’s unconscious desires. The premise of the story is that on this particular Lāhainā noon, the characters in the movie will be faced with choice. Because of the overhead sun, at that moment, they can’t hide their true desires. So their unconscious desires are amplified by the Lāhainā noon. The movie is really about the sun, shadows, and how they affect people.

In a previous interview, you mentioned the influence of Baraka, Ron Fricke’s non-narrative documentary.

Yeah, that thing was powerful. I’d never seen anything like it. No one had. I came from still photography, and time lapse is just magical to me. Baraka was a ton of time lapse shot in 70mm, and it was projected at the Cinerama. That was a whole other level of filmmaking. I take a little bit of that with me, for sure. You’ll see it in “Lāhainā Noon.” Most filmmakers, that’s not the thing they’re trying to make, but they should definitely have that knowledge. They should know that film is capable of eliciting those feelings and emotions just through pictures. It’s powerful. Film is magic. You should treat it as such and respect it as such. It’s more than entertainment to me. It’s storytelling. It’s communication. It’s magic.

What kind of movies do you watch now?

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I haven’t been to the theater in forever. I watch a lot of foreign films. Kurosawa is one of my idols. I’d rather watch a good movie again and again than watch crap. That’s what I feel the difference is between what some filmmakers are trying to do and the others. They’re making cartoons. I don’t want to make cartoons. I think cartoons are great, but that’s not what I want to do. I watch a lot of Kubrick, Scorsese, Kurosawa, Kobayashi, a lot of Japanese new-wave filmmakers. I love all that stuff.

It’s so funny because, without actually trying to duplicate those filmmakers, if you watch clips from “Lāhainā Noon,” it feels like that. We’re like, “Holy shit, that’s the Kurosawa shot. Oh shit, that’s a Scorsese shot.” We didn’t plan it to be a Scorsese shot or a Coppola shot, but it is. If people can see that in our filmmaking, that would be amazing.


“Lāhainā Noon” began its Kickstarter campaign this morning. To find out more about “Lāhainā Noon” or to donate, go to 4thworldfilm.com.

Tonight or August 26, join in the Lāhainā Noon fundraising festivities; see flyer below.

Lahaina Noon