Big Island Student’s Film Semifinalist at International Festival

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Konawaena High School senior Jade Onaka’s documentary short film was named a semifinalist for the Zensa Media International Film Festival.

Onaka of Kona will have her film, “‘Ohana and ‘Āina: Connecting Family, Farming, and Freedom,” exhibited in the food-related films category on Nov. 25 in Montreal.

“I am grateful for the opportunity and hope the message makes an impact in a viewer’s life and conscience,” Onaka said. “This was a gratifying process; being able to share something as simple as food was something beautiful that a lot of people can use.”

The documentary explores Onaka’s family history to learn about the farming practices that sustained Hawaiians for generations. The film was co-created by Onaka and One Day Studio, an affiliate program of Teach For America that produces multimedia stories about educational equity.


The yearlong partnership started when Onaka, as a member of the Teach For America Hawai‘i Youth Council, participated in a virtual panel hosted in November 2020 by TFA about the impact of COVID-19 on native communities and education.

“The idea for this video was sparked by a comment Jade made while speaking on a panel at the event,” said Joel Serin-Christ, director of studio production at One Day Studio. “I don’t think either of us thought it would grow into something as rich and beautiful as this film. I’m so proud of all the work Jade put into this. When I watch this film, I see Jade. I think that’s the best part for me.”

The Zensa Media International Film Festival is in its fourth year. Top films in select categories will win a prize. Onaka’s film will also be screened locally Dec. 13 during the upcoming Teach For America Hawai‘i Holiday Party. The film also can be viewed anytime online by clicking here.


Founded in 2006, Teach For America Hawaiʻi works in partnership with communities to expand educational opportunities for children. For more information, visit and follow TFA on Facebook and Twitter.

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