Eager to impress his friends on an August afternoon in 1969, 15 year old Kanalu Young takes a dive into shallow water that changes his life forever. He hits his head and becomes quadriplegic, paralyzed from the neck down. Angry and defiant through months of rehabilitation, he begins to change when he learns Hawaiian language and discovers an untold story of Hawaiian history and culture. Fired up to tell Hawai‘i’s story, he earns a PhD, gets arrested fighting for Hawaiian rights, and becomes a crusading teacher and leader. Repeatedly stymied by pressure sores and respiratory problems, Kanalu soldiers on, driven to help transform his community by teaching history and practicing culture. Eventually hospitalized with a breathing tube to keep him alive, he asks his doctors to allow him to end his life, and they agree.
This film will be be screened with feature film TIES THAT BIND: HAWAII IN THE PACIFIC. As part of HIFF's Film For Thought program in partnership with the Hawaii Council for the Humanities the first screening of this program will be followed by a special extended discussion with director Marlene Booth (KŪ KANAKA), director Caleb McMahan (TIES THAT BIND), and University of Hawaii professor Noelani Goodyear-Kaopua.