Director / Cinematography: Les Blank
Production Co.: Flower Films
Producer / Project Conceived by: Meleanna Aluli Meyer
Co-producer / Production manager: Gae Rusk
Editor / Sound recordist: Chris Simon
Music: Irmgard Farden Aluli
Assistant camera: Pacho Lane & Pita Turei
Auntie Irmgard Farden Aluli and the Farden 'Ohana (Margaret, Annie, Carl, Bernard, Emma, Maud, Diana, Rudoplh, Edna, Llewelyn)
Talk about mixed media. Puamana is a movie about music and dance... but what it really is is a work of poetry. In just 37 minutes, the film portrait of Irmgard Farden Aluli and Lahaina's treasured Farden family easily goes beyond the usual limits of 'documentary', to become an artistic work in its own lyrical terms - a cinematic translation of the pulse of island life. The film also brings to the screen a vibrant sense of the meaning of ohana and aloha - the love among the thirteen children of Charles and Annie Farden which became one of Maui's greatest musical legacies.
The 37-minute film was distilled from some 40 hours of footage, shot by filmmaker Les Blank, with sound recording by Chris Simon. Simon was also the editor - spending eight months with Blank taking the raw footage and assembling it into the lyrical unfolding of Puamana. Eight months is a long time to spend on a project like this, and as Blank has observed, the results are deceptive. The film's flow - incorporating the usual documentary devices of real time footage, historical stills and occasional on-screen text - is deceptive for its apparent simplicity. The rhythm is so natural and in sync with the subject matter, the audience is oblivious to the craft that went into assembling it.
The project itself was the dream of producer Meleanna Meyer, niece of Irmgard Farden Aluli. Part tribute, part record, part family album, part concert film, Puamana winds up being something more than the sum of its parts... Asked during her film about her own death, she commented that sometimes she feels herself dragging - but other times realizes that she's not ready yet, there's still more to do. The focus on her as a songwriter also becomes a way of letting the film talk about other issues - from memories of family history to a look at the changing island and a rapidly disappearing way of life...
'Puamana' is the name of the Farden family homestead in Lahaina as well. The memory of how Auntie Irmgard wrote the song, with sister Emma dancing to it and their father translating the fragrance of the flowers and the soft whisper of the surf into the lyrics, is itself a doorway into the heart and soul of Hawaiian music. The film is full of such doorways, opening into rooms filled with the family love which inspired - and is so present - in the music.
- Rick Chatenever, The Maui News, 1/92