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portrait of Lisette Flanary

As an independent filmmaker and a hula dancer, Lisette Marie Flanary creates documentary films that celebrate a modern renaissance of the hula dance and Hawaiian culture. She is the writer, producer and director of Lehua Films and her first documentary, American Aloha: Hula Beyond Hawaiʻi received a CINE Golden Eagle Award when it aired on the critically acclaimed P.O.V. series on PBS in 2003.

Her award-winning film, Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula, featuring legendary Hawaiian master hula teacher and entertainer, Robert Cazimero, screened in numerous film festivals around the country. Lisette received the Hawai’i Filmmaker Award at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival in 2006 and the Emerging Director Award at the New York Asian American International Film Festival in 2007. The film also received Best Documentary and Audience Awards at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Nā Kamalei: The Men of Hula was broadcast nationally on the 2007-2008 Independent Lens series on PBS in May 2008 and it was the winner of the Audience Award for the series.

She also directed the documentary feature, One Voice, which follows the young song directors at the Kamehameha Schools Song Contest. It was nominated for an Emerging Director Award at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific American Film Festival in 2010 and won Audience Awards for Best Documentary at the Hawai’i International Film Festival, the San Diego Asian Film Festival, and the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival in 2011. Executive produced by Pacific Islanders in Communications and Juniroa Productions, One Voice was theatrically released in Hawaiʻi and Japan in August 2011 and broadcast nationally on PBS in 2012.

Lisette is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in Film and Television Production and received her MFA in Creative Writing at the New School University. Having lived in New York City for over twenty years, Lisette moved to Honolulu in 2011 and is currently a Professor of Indigenous/Native Creative Media at ACM: The School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. She teaches courses in screenwriting, producing, critical studies, and indigenous filmmaking. In 2016, Lisette received the Board of Regents Excellence in Teaching Award, the highest university-wide award recognizing faculty who have made significant contributions in teaching and student learning, and in 2021, she received the OVCR Excellence in Mentoring Undergraduate Research & Creative Work Award.

Recently Lisette completed Tokyo Hula, the final film in a trilogy of documentaries on the hula dance, about the explosive popularity of the hula dance in Japan. Tokyo Hula premiered at the Yamagata International Documentary Film Festival and the Made in Hawaiʻi Competition at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival in 2019. The film won the Best Moana Whārahi Award at the Doc Edge Festival in New Zealand and was also nominated for the Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature at the Guam International Film Festival in 2020.

All three of the documentaries in the Hula Trilogy were broadcast on the Pacific Heartbeat Season 10 from Pacific Islanders in Communications in 2021. Lisette was also featured in Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmaking’s series Reel Wāhine of Hawaiʻi Season 2 highlighting Hawaiʻi’s top women filmmakers and is one of the co-directors of Good Pitch Local Hawaiʻi.

For more information on Lisette’s film work, please visit

Phone: (808) 956-5302

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