‘Kapaemahu’, first Hawaiian animated short to clear first round of Oscars Shortlist

The four Mahus from Kapaemahu

A week ago we anticipated that animated short film, Kapaemahu, could be the first ever Native Hawaiian film to have ever been nominated for the Academy Awards Shortlist. And yesterday, 9 February 2021, history has been made as Kapaemahu made it through the first round of voting and is now on the official Oscars Shortlist of 10 films for the 93rd Oscars Shortlist in the ‘Animated Short Film’ category!!

Thrilled on receiving the prestigious nomination, co-directors and co-producers Dean Hamer, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Joe Wilson shared with Animation Xpress, “Our team is feeling elated, we’re on cloud nine! It has been such a difficult year for so many people around the globe, so the news that Kapaemahu is included in this year’s Oscars Shortlist means that its themes of healing, restoration, and aloha [hello; love, peace, harmony] are resonating with viewers in powerful ways. No matter what happens next, it gives us hope for brighter days ahead.”

From Left to right : Dean Hamer, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Joe Wilson

There will be one more round of voting by the Academy’s animation branch to determine the five official nominees, to be announced on 15 March followed by a final round of voting by all Academy members to select the winner, to be announced at the Academy Awards ceremony on 25 April.

Kapaemahu focuses on the issue of reclamation of Hawaiian histories, and the eight-minute film tells the story of four ‘mahus’ – extraordinary beings of dual male and female spirit who brought the healing arts from Tahiti to Hawaii long ago.

The official description follows: Beloved by the people for their gentle ways and miraculous cures, they imbued four giant boulders with their powers. Although the stones still stand on Waikiki Beach, the true story behind them has been hidden from history, until now. Narrated in Olelo Niihau, and seen through the eyes of a curious child, Kapaemahu brings this powerful legend to life through vivid animation.

To date, Kapaemahu has received 21 awards and 130 official selections. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for the Oscars! 

Disney+ Sparkshorts Out is also one of the nominees. The full list is below.