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This Is The Way We Rise 2020

Highly Recommended

Distributed by Good Docs
Produced by Chapin Hall
Directed by Ciara Lacy
Streaming, 12 mins

Middle School - General Adult
Activism; Native Peoples; Poetry

Date Entered: 07/18/2022

Reviewed by Casey Mazzoli, Early Career Development Resident, Otterbein University

In just 12 minutes, This Is the Way We Rise spins several plates and manages to keep them all intact. The film is built around autobiographical narration by Native Hawaiian poet, and assistant professor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Dr. Jamaica Heolimeleikalani Osorio. Following Osorio’s journey as a poet, the film covers art, inspiration, activism, current events, personal identity, and cultural heritage. It introduces viewers to a protest at the Maunakea Access Road by highlighting how Osorio found new poetic inspiration in writing through participating in the protest. Due to the film’s short length and its focus on varied topics as they appear in Osorio’s personal narrative, it doesn’t function as a documentary-style deep dive into its central social issue, though at the beginning it seems to signal an expository documentary approach. However, the film still manages to pack in a notable amount of detail for a clear introduction to issues surrounding the protection of sacred land, centralizing the Hawaiian people, their knowledge, and their work.

The narrative is supported by engaging footage choreographed seamlessly with the narration in ways that help deliver information quickly and reinforce thematic elements, examining the communal and the exterior world while never losing sight of the interviewee. Many students are likely to connect with the poet’s experience of feeling disconnected from mainstream literature and finding her own creative voice through engaging with her personal identity, cultural history, and values. The film offers a nice nod to the holes in classical education structures and materials, which could open a door for students who have not felt connected to traditional academic or creative spaces.

This Is the Way We Rise highlights empowerment through creative acts and what it looks like for the contemporary creative to engage with the world around them. It could serve as an effective conversation-starter for a range of social and political issues in the classroom.

Official Selection, Sundance Film Festival; Best Short Documentary, Thin Line Fest; Nomination (Part of an anthology series), NAACP Image Award; Audience Award: Best Documentary Short, Ashland Independent Film Festival; Best Short Doc, Walla Walla Film Crush

Published and licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. Anyone can use these reviews, so long as they comply with the terms of the license.