Visions du Réel Review: Cane Fire



For many, Kauaʻi is like paradise on Earth. The Hawaiian island is often referred to as the ‘Garden Isle’ due to the lush tropical rainforest which covers much of its surface. Its breathtaking beauty has made it a popular destination for the rich and famous. Not to mention the many Hollywood films which have been made there. The likes of South Pacific, The Descendants, Blue Hawaii and Raiders of the Lost Ark.

The island was discovered by Europeans for the first time in 1778 with the arrival of Captain James Cook. It didn’t take long until they were reshaping the island. In 1835, Old Koloa Town opened the first sugar mill and with it started a 250-year industry which has literally shaped the land. This history has impacted on four generations of filmmaker Anthony Banua-Simon’s family, who first migrated there from the Philippines to work on a plantation. Cane Fire focuses on the economic and cultural planet which has shaped today’s society.  

Using a wealth of archive footage and contemporary interviews, Cane Fire discusses the past, present and future of this fertile isle. Money talks and today Hawaii is the most expensive state to live in America. This has resulted in a squeeze on the indigenous and working-class populations of Kauaʻi. Second homes and real estate investment has resulted in ricing prices and a squeezed property stock. Cane Fire deftly documents a community under threat from a new colonialism.

Cane Fire screens at Visions du Réel

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