He Kiʻi ʻOniʻoni na Keliʻi Grace

E pili ana i kēia kiʻi ʻoniʻoni

In ancient Hawaiʻi, a warrior was entrusted with the sacred act of hiding his beloved chief’s bones. To ensure they would never be found, he traveled in secret… 

“Reverence” starring Kapono Aluli Souza is an independent short film produced by Hawaii Film + Arts International. Set in pre-contact Hawaiʻi, it tells the story of one warrior’s journey and his deep love for his chief. Based on moʻolelo of the final resting places of the great chiefs of Hawaiʻi, this film reflects a deep reverence for life.

Director's Statement

We believe in the power of people to tell their own stories. For a long time, the world’s view of Hawaiʻi has been a touristy one. Yet Hawaiian culture has so much to offer the world - values of inclusion and acceptance, sustainability and innovation. We hope that this film helps to create a dialogue and sheds light on the deeper beauty and wisdom of Hawaiʻi. Our ancestors, kūpuna, have always shared their stories or moʻolelo verbally through oli (chanting) and hula (dancing). Yet today, film allows us to blend ancient ways with modern technology and share stories that are a part of our collective history and memory. Stories that impart special mana (spirit) and understanding to viewers. 


With a tight team of 6 people playing multiple roles, we shot for 4 long days and nights on Hawaiʻi Island, in cloud forests and caves, hand-lighting ancient lamps for the first time after hundreds of years. Our crew all fasted before filming to get into the right state of mind to tell this very sacred story and our actor, himself a cultural practitioner worked with our producer and respected artisans to handcraft all the props to be as true as possible to ancient times. We had the script's outline but the story came to life through practitioners who donated hundreds of hours and helped us build the narrative to be as true as possible. It is our hope that this feeling and energy of following the signs from the ʻāina (land) while filming, guided by our ancestors, inspires people to have reverence for all of life and to preserve these stories so they are not lost forever.