Nerd Spring Break Coming to Kakaako

Nerd Spring Break

While students at the University of Hawaii are likely planning to relax their minds as much as possible this week, a free film series is being presented to those who want to exercise their brains instead. “Nerd Spring Break” begins tomorrow and runs through Wednesday, hosted by Interisland Terminal at Kakaako Agora.

The venue certainly is living up to its namesake, the center of artistic, spiritual and political life of ancient Greece. The films screening in Honolulu are documentaries ranging from rare glimpses of old Hawaii to provocative questions about land use and (fittingly) the value of a college education.


On Monday, attendees will explore “Hawaii: Past & Present.” And rather than screening a single documentary, the evening will showcase a selection of historical moving images and films from Hawaii’s past. The source? The ‘Ulu‘Ulu Archives, the official state archive for moving images. And if you’ve not heard of the archive, headed by filmmaker Heather Giugni, prepare to get lost in island history.

The archive, which is constantly growing, is also constantly digitizing film and video and putting excerpts online. There are a number of collections organized into a number of themes, and once you start exploring them, you could easily lose half a day. As a news guy, I’m drawn to the KGMB archives, full of random news clips, and gems like the “Don Ho Christmas Special” from KITV in 1967.

And tomorrow, the archive will be screening new additions to the archives not yet available to the public. Also, a pair of short local documentaries will be shown. The films – by Vince Ricafort, Mikey Inouye and Christine Yuan — that highlight local youth who are making their own media.

Ivory Tower

On Tuesday, Interisland Terminal will screen “Ivory Tower,” a documentary from 2014. The film asks a question I’m certainly mulling, with three fast-growing kids in the household: Is college worth the cost?

Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Andrew Rossi looks at the state of higher education, from top-ranked private schools to public colleges.

“Colleges in the United States, long regarded as leaders in higher education, came to embrace a business model that often promotes expansion over quality learning,” notes the film website. “What price will society pay if higher education cannot revolutionize college as we know it and evolve a sustainable economic model?” Check out the trailer here.

Following the film, Kakaako Agora will host a discussion of higher education in Hawaii with Manulani Aluli Meyer, an associate professor of education at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. Meyer, a Harvard graduate, studied the Hawaiian charter school movement, and has written about how Hawaiian practices can go beyond western ways of passing on knowledge.

The Garden

The Garden” is the featured film on Wednesday. Released in 2008, the documentary tells the story of the largest urban farm in the U.S., established in South Central Los Angeles after the 1992 L.A. riots. The 14-acre farm was successful, but was eventually threatened by a “back-room” real estate deal.

The film site reads: “The Garden follows the plight of the farmers, from the tilled soil of this urban farm to the polished marble of City Hall. Mostly immigrants from Latin America, from countries where they feared for their lives if they were to speak out, we watch them organize, fight back, and demand answers.” Check out the trailer here.

Before the screening, Interisland Terminal will show excerpts from documentaries on struggles over land access in Hawaii.

For more information, visit the Kakaako Agora website, or the “Nerd Spring Break” event on Facebook.

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