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Last Hawaiian Sugar

Directed by Deja Cresencia Bernhardt

Nua makes peace with the mixed emotions she has about the land she lives on when she learns the sugar plantation she calls home will be closed forever.

Last Hawaiian Sugar is a short drama set on the final remaining sugar cane plantation camp on Maui. Nua, twelve years-old, Samoan, identifies with the world through her intensely spiritual connection she has with the land. She is the product of this immigrant camp that “Big Sugar” brought to work these fields. On the very day Nua learns the mill is closing, she struggles to tell her mother about the abuse she suffers. When her mother isn’t able to hear her cries for help, Nua resolves to sabotage the final sugarcane burn as she prepares to say goodbye to the only home she has ever known.

Nua’s story is a metaphor for what has happened to the land due to industrialized farming, offers a rare look into the final days of commercial sugar production in Hawai‘i, and the Islands’ complicated relationship with the sugar industry. Last Hawaiian Sugar is a contemporary story reckoning a deep Hawaiian history; the Hawaiian Commercial & Sugar Co. produced its final harvest in 2016. This mill, on Maui, was permanently closed soon after and the last employees of HC&S were laid off.

Directed by Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt
Produced by Gerard Elmore, Darrin Kaneshiro, Leanne K. Ferrer, Cheryl Hirasa, Caleigh Dillon, Jason Cutinella, Kaitlyn Ledzian, Anne Misawa

Director’s Bio: Déjà Cresencia Bernhardt is a filmmaker raised on Maui, Hawai’i who now resides between her family home in Bali, Indonesia and Austin, Texas. Déjà draws upon her diverse heritage, finding inspiration to tell both narrative and documentary stories — often informing one another. Her films have screened in festivals worldwide and won numerous awards, but more importantly, catapulted humanitarian work into the forefront of the global public eye. Déjà loves to create films that open hearts and connect people to their global and indigenous and global communities. She received her BFA from Maharishi International University and an MFA in Film Production at Radio-Televison-Film at University of Texas, Austin. Déjà recently completed production of Last Hawaiian Sugar, a prelude for her feature Half Angels — named one of top ten best unproduced screenplays by CAPE (Coalition for Asian Pacfics in Entertainment) & The BlackList(2019). Last Hawaiian Sugar is a PIC(Pacific Islanders in Communication) recipient and the ‘Ohina Lab Greenlight Winner 2019.

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