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Kaua‘i community organizers at heart of national film festival

LIHU‘E — Three Kaua‘i activists are taking center stage at the start of a nationwide film festival, later today at 4 p.m.

Lorilani Keohokalole, Malia Kahale’inia Chun and Fern Holland will revisit their roles in the 2016 documentary “Poisoning Paradise,” which chronicled the grassroots backlash to corporations’ use of pesticides on Kaua‘i, during the Poisoning Paradise Film Festival’s online launch panel.

The discussion is the first of five panels featuring environmental and community activists across the United States, Puerto Rico and Brazil. All are tackling issues stemming from or related to Kaua‘i residents’ successful actions against agrochemical companies, according to panel moderator Mackenzie Feldman, founder and executive director of the nonprofit Herbicide Free Campus.

“Yes, Hawai‘i has fought and gotten a lot of them to relocate, and now they’re in Puerto Rico,” Feldman said. “Now Puerto Rico needs to learn how to organize and get them out of Puerto Rico. We need to stop forcing these companies to move and we need to figure out how to solve the issue in the first place.”

Keohokalole, Kahale‘inia Chun and Holland will also discuss their current work, the state of agrochemical companies on Kaua‘i today and provide advice to young activists.

Feldman, who was born and raised on O‘ahu, was a teenager at the time of the protests and community organizing documented in “Poisoning Paradise.” She says tonight’s panelists and others like them became her role models as she followed news coverage of their work.

“Even though I’m on the mainland, my heart is with this work that’s happening in Hawai‘i,” Feldman said. “I want other people around the country and the world to know about it. I think there’s a lot of lessons that can be taken from it.”

The month-long film festival is currently available online-only on Kaua‘i, but will be screened at in-person viewing parties on school campuses and other venues throughout the nation and Puerto Rico. “Poisoning Paradise” is also available to stream for free throughout the duration of the event.

More information, including panel dates and registration and documentary streaming details, can be found online at The festival runs through Tuesday, Oct. 26.


Scott Yunker, reporter, can be reached at 245-0437 or
Source: The Garden Island

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