OUT OF STATE
Run time: 1 hr 22 min
Rating: 8.8/10 IMDb
Year it came out: 2017 (Hawaii, USA)
Director: Ciara Lacy
Shipped thousands of miles away from the tropical islands of Hawaii to a private prison in the Arizona desert, two native Hawaiians discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence. It’s from this unlikely setting that David and Hale finish their terms and return to Hawaii, hoping for a fresh start. Eager to prove to themselves and to their families that this experience has changed them forever, David and Hale struggle with the hurdles of life as formerly incarcerated men, asking the question: can you really go home again?
The first time I walked into the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona I cried.
There, in the middle of a dusty prison recreation yard, were 100 men chanting my entrance into the facility. Prior to arriving, I had reasonable concerns about filming in prison and had been advised by mentors to love my subjects but to also be cautious given their histories. Every expectation I had was immediately thrown out the door when I saw these men chanting in varying shades of traditional Hawaiian dress and prison uniforms. Caught off guard, I did the only thing I knew how to do; I chanted back.
As a native Hawaiian, the metaphor of our cultural practices behind bars was immediately overwhelming, evoking profound resentment for the ramifications of the colonization of our people. To date, we struggle at the bottom rung of so many socio-economic factors in our own lands, including a striking overabundance of our people populating local and distant prisons.
Sadly, this is not new information about our community. However, what captured me in this prison space was the humanity and connection between men. If, in this most unlikely location, thousands upon thousands of miles away from home, they could discover their native culture from each other and create a bond, so much more was possible. And it still is.
OUT OF STATE is meant to be more than a documentary; it is meant to give face to the hundreds of natives shipped to faraway prisons but who remain hopeful to return home to a fresh start. My deepest gratitude to those brave enough to share their stories. This film has truly been my kuleana, the native Hawaiian word for responsibility, and I hope it can be part of a movement toward healing.
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