Traditional Tattoo Film Festival in Hawi

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Hawai‘i’s first traditional tattoo film festival will be held at the Kohala Village HUB in Hawi from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019. Eleven free screenings will highlight indigenous arts and resilience throughout the world with a focus on Pacific and Arctic cultures.

The event is a featured component of a four-day Traditional Tattoo Festival sponsored by Kohala Institute and supported by grants from Hawai’i Tourism Authority Community Enrichment Program and Hawai`i Council for the Humanities. A diverse panel of visiting international tattoo artists will share ancient traditions from indigenous communities worldwide.

Lars Krutak, renowned tattoo anthropologist and co-curator for the Traditional Tattoo Festival, has chosen a comprehensive schedule of documentaries equally designed for viewers new to traditional tattoo, as well as experts in the art.

Krutak hosted the Tattoo Hunter documentary series on the Discovery Channel and travels the world to research and experience varied art forms of body modification.


“Every traditional method of tattoo application is tedious, and those men and women who mastered the practice plied human skin with ancestral designs to assert identity, religious beliefs, rites of passage and other life accomplishments,” Krutak said. “In essence, tattooing expressed what it meant to be human.”

Krutak selected 11 films to be shown throughout the day. The films are the highlight of the Traditional Tattoo Festival’s Saturday cultural fair in downtown Hawi. Live music, food vendors and kapa, lauhala and wood carving demonstrations will also take place on the Kohala Village HUB’s six-acre grounds, said Joël Tan, event organizer and manager of the GRACE Center at Kohala Institute.

“The film festival offers a compelling glimpse of both the ancient and future practices of traditional tattoo,” Tan said. “The Traditional Tattoo Festival itself focuses on inclusivity. We hope to dissolve colonial divisions and reaffirm interrelatedness between indigenous peoples. Given generations of oppression and cultural suppression across indigenous cultures, we now have a significant need to preserve and share traditional and ancient knowledge.”


Films will run continuously throughout the day beginning at 9.30 am with a 5-10 minute interlude between screenings. Three feature presentations will be shown within the full line-up.

For a detailed schedule of events and information about the Traditional Tattoo Festival’s two-day symposium with international artists and presenters, visit www.TraditionalTattooFestivalHI.com, phone 808-889-5151 or email [email protected].

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