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The Ali’I King - Directed by Christine Kunewa Walker

Runtime: 26 min

Completion Date: October 2023

Country of Origin: USA

Language: English, German, Hawaiian


Johnny Kaiwi, Brandon Tierney Finn

May Kaiwi, Brooklyn Lee

Lizzie Kaiwi, Jada Lasike

Lana Kaiwi, Marisa Van Den Borre

Ian Kaiwi, Jrake Lasike

Bishop Stoneman, Trenton J. James

Oma, Petra Szmykowski-Britton

Opa, Todd Gajdusek

Roadside Vendor, Tammy Blackfoot

Momi, Sam Puefua

Frank, Peyton Romero


New Globe Films

The Ali’I King, LLC

Pacific Islanders In Communications


Writer/Director: Christine Kunewa Walker

Producer: Hannah Walker

Co-Producer/UPM: Matt Olson

Executive Producers: Diane DiCarlo & Jeanne Leszczynski, Stephanie Dillon, Gerard Elmore, Tracy

Kunewa Pease, Fermin Rojas

Associate Producers: Glyne Pease, Katie Ford, Mike Syers

Director of Photography Gerard Elmore

Editor: Andy Peters

Casting By Rene Haynes

Music By Barbara Cohen

First Assistant Director: William Judd Greener

Music Supervisor: Terri D’Ambrosio

Sound Designer: Christopher Code

Addtl. Crew

Second Assistant Director              Zealand Despain

Set Decorator                                   Dakota Bailey Van Buren

Set Dresser                                         Mitchell Richmond

Graphic Designer:                            Glyne Pease

Camera Operator & 1st AC            Trevor Turpin

Stills Photographer                          Mae Gammino

Drone Operator                               Colby Bryson

Script Supervisor                              Fermin Rojas

Production Sound Mixer                Robert Andrus

Boom Operator                               Brandon Ho

Rigging Grip                                      Eric Beck

Location Manager                           Jeffrey Blake

Assistant Location Manager         Tyler Harris

Property Master                              Marcus Parker

Property Master                              Eric Butz

Costume Designer                           Meadow Alexander

Costume Assistant                           Ariana Zambrano Valladares

Hair & Makeup                                 Vanae Morris

Hair & Makeup Assistant                Breeklyn Cook

Picture Car Coordinator  Fermin Rojas

Utah Casting                                     Jeff Johnson

Casting Associate                            Elise Buedel

Casting Assistant                             Rosie Sandler

Cast Driver                                        Julie Rockett

Production Consultants                  Brad & Melissa Johnson

Covid-19 Health & Safety Officer Gay Lynn Smith

Production Assistants                     Jacklyn Amadu, Kendall MacMillan, Jenny Nordgaard,Trevin Peck

Brian Vance, Alysha V. Scarlett

Craft Service                                     Craig Pease

Catering by                                       Kit's Cafe @ Moon'k Films Devoted Production Studios

Pre-Production Services                 DKR Films

Assistant Editor                                Nick Larner

Post Production Audio                    Decoded Audio

Re-Recording Engineer                  Luke Harper

Foley Artist                                        Allard LaRue

Color  & VFX                                     Gerard Elmore


Cultural Behind the Scenes

Editor                                                 Ka'eo Drumright

Camera                                              Bradina Anae

Story Concepts                                 Dakota Bailey Van Buren

Spyhop Phase 2 Manager              Maria Villasenor

Story Consultant                              Shelli Ainsworth


A Mormon family of Hawaiian German immigrants embark on a road trip through the Utah desert to attend the opening of Tikiland, a new Disneyland attraction. Along the way, family tensions heat up as the road to "the happiest place on earth” exposes painful cultural and emotional divisions.




THE ALI’I KING is based on a true incident that occurred in my mixed family of German immigrants who fled the Russian occupation of Berlin after WWII and my Native Hawaiian father whose family's livelihood had been overrun by the commercial fishing industry. Both  ended up in Salt Lake City, Utah after converting to Mormonism and securing sponsorship to move to the mainland. Back when the  incident depicted in the film occurred, I was too young to fully process the shame and sense of otherness that I felt at the time, but I was compelled to creatively explore its relevance as a gateway into my future work. 


Set in the 1960’s, the  film depicts the allure that  the American dream held  for a family like mine along with the challenges of having to adapt to a new set of rules and expectations. That coupled with two completely different backgrounds led to an extreme chasm in our household. In The Ali’i King, I attempt to depict the personal toll on the children in these households and to depict the ways in which unconscious and not-so unconscious bias manifests itself into the family dynamic. 


In the fall of 2021, the  script was awarded funds of $25,000 from Pacific Islanders In Communication which also comes with a broadcast deal on PBS. After that, the script was accepted into the prestigious Ohina Filmmaker’s Lab and received support  from Creative Capital of Hawaii and NMG network. Additional funds were raised through a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Utah Community Tax Fund and the Provincetown Community Compact. 


Production took place in the summer of 2022. During which time, we hired Polynesian students to document the process. Part of this speaks to my long-time practice as a producer to provide on-set mentorship opportunities to  the next generation of filmmakers.  Out of solidarity with those in our crew who were affected by the Maui fires, we held off premiering the film for the  Hawaiian International Film Festival in the fall of 2023. Since then, we’ve organized countless community and festival screenings for both the BTS and the film.

Christine Kunewa Walker

Director's Biography

CHRISTINE KUNEWA WALKER is a native Hawaiian storyteller and an award-winning filmmaker who is interested in the the impact of American colonization on indigenous cultures. She is especially interested in stories about Polynesians living in the cultural diaspora.


Walker serves as the principal of New Globe Films and the former CEO and Executive Director of the Provincetown Film Society. Walker is also the founder and former president of Werk Work Works, a feature film finance and production company based in Minneapolis. Walker also founded the Media Summit for Equity and Inclusion in U.S. Entertainment Media which recently hosted it's 7th installment. A champion of independent film, Walker has dedicated her career to supporting independent production and independent makers of film. In addition, her own films have premiered at virtually every major international film festival and have garnered more than 100 awards and recognitions, including individual honors for Excellence in Diversity Filmmaking by the Producer’s Guild of America; the Independent Spirit Award Nomination for Excellence in Producing; the Freedom of Expression Award from the National Board of Review; and the Equity and Inclusion Award at the Stanford Symposium on Equity in the Entertainment Industry. Walker also co-founded The Ash Christian Film Foundation and serves on the board of trustees for the Walker Art Center and The Alturas Institute. 


After serving in countless capacities in the independent film space, Walker recently took the plunge into directing her first narrative film project which she wrote and directed titled THE ALI'I KING, based on her family experiences growing up in the Hawaiian diaspora. The project, which is scheduled for completion in summer 2023, received support from Pacific Islanders in Communications, PBS, The Provincetown Compact, the Utah Film Commission, and The Ohina Film labs as well as several friends and backers through a Kickstarter Campaign. 


Walker's other film credits include; STAY THEN GO, directed by Shelli Ainsworth; DARLING COMPANION (Sony Pictures Classics) directed by Lawrence Kasdan starring Diane Keaton and Kevin Kline; THE TURIN HORSE by Hungarian auteur Bela Tarrl; the Sundance Film Festival premiere film THIN ICE (ATO) directed by Jill Sprecher with Greg Kinnear, Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup; HOWL directed by academy award winning directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman starring James Franco, Jon Hamm, and David Straithairn; the Todd Solondz directed LIFE DURING WARTIME. Walker also co-wrote and produced OLDER THAN AMERICA starring Adam Beach and Bradley Cooper; FACTOTUM starring Matt Dillon, Lily Taylor and Marisa Tomei, and line-produced the academy award nominated AMERICAN SPLENDOR which garnered more than thirty two international awards, among other film projects. 

Director's Statement

I am a native Hawaiian storyteller who is committed to reclaiming the cultural narrative that misrepresents, stereotypes and marginalizes the Hawaiian peoples. My artistic practice and worldview are deeply rooted in my formal education studying literature, history, and film; my professional experience as an award-winning film producer and the director of an international film festival; and my personal experiences growing up in a multi-racial household where film provided a means for finding common ground. After serving in countless support positions in film, I am at a point in my career where I am taking steps to get back into why I got into filmmaking in the first place and concentrate my energies on the stories, themes, and ideas that matter most to me and my community. 


A common concern to my practice is the lack of representation of women and other minority communities in the cultural narrative. A 2024 report issued by the Annenberg school of Communications at USC reveals that despite the recent rhetoric, lead roles for women have dropped the lowest in fourteen years. The statistics are even worse for Asian and Pacific Islander characters that are often lumped together despite their distinctive histories. The same low digits apply to AAPI writers and directors. Now more than ever, I want to take control of the cultural narrative. And the power to enact change in film starts on the page. 


In my artistic practice, I am interested in writing about the Hawaiian experience and delving into the history and impact of colonialism. In terms of broader appeal, these stories speak to larger global issues related to immigration, assimilation, climate change, etc. For instance, my short film The Ali’i King depicts a family removed from their cultural roots and is dealing with the challenges that come with adapting to new rules and expectations. Set in the Utah desert, the story also visually captures the overwhelming burden of new unchartered territory. While I drew inspiration from Hollywood road movies and westerns, I also view genre film in general as a way to pull the story beyond the personal and make a film that can be accessible to a broader audience. Importantly however, I am most invested in exploring new approaches to storytelling that go beyond colonialist paradigms. As the ways in which content is viewed and digested continue to shift, so do the opportunities to create a cinematic experience that is uniquely informed by other cultural influences. 


Research and collaboration is also key to my artistic practice. In my years of creative producing and programming, I know first-hand that storytelling in cinema has more to do with access than anything else. In fact, the notion of a single author on any work of film art is another form of oppression. For instance, the script for Older Than America would not have been possible without extensive research and personal interviews with dozens of survivors, namely the director Georgina Lightning who inspired the story. In order to honor these contributions and create a more authentic experience, we also included many survivors in the final execution of the film. 


Currently, I am working on the feature version of The Ali’i King and a personal essay film set in Iosepa, a ghost town in Skull Valley, UT that was once home to over 200 Polynesian members of the Mormon church between 1889-1917.

Having spent years supporting filmmakers through my role as a producer and programmer, I am eager to focus on my individual filmmaking practice creating films about my community and empowering myself and my native Hawaiian community. I aim to be heard, to be understood, and to be impactful. 






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