Out of State


Megan Schendel

    Moved by the story of Hawaiian men practicing their culture while imprisoned at the Saguaro Correctional Center in Eloy, Arizona, Mililani resident and Kamehameha ‘98 alumna Ciara Lacy directed and produced the documentary, “Out of State.” The documentary followed the story of prisoners David Kahalewai and Genaro Hale Gualdarama as they participated in a program that allowed them to learn about their Hawaiian culture while imprisoned, in hopes of making it easier for them to build a life for themselves when they returned home. Her film first premiered at the Los Angeles Film Festival in June and made its debut in Hawaii at the Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) in November.

    “Our goal was to give people an opportunity to see something they might not see. When you get shipped to a prison so far away, the likelihood of you having many visitors is very low so we, as a community, don’t really have a chance to understand what happens and the impact of the choices we’re making. We just wanted to give a chance to get that half of it,” said Lacy.

    Though Hawaii was the ninth place that “Out of State” premiered in, it was one of the premieres that Lacy worried about most. “Bringing the film back home to Hawaii was the most important thing. It’s really great to take the film to all these cool places but the most important place is our home because this is a story about our home, and the goal is always to start conversations in our own community about what we can do and rethink what we have been doing,” said Lacy.

    The premiere of “Out of State” at HIFF proved to be well received by both the judges and audience members. “I am very honored and pleased to say that the film won Best Feature in the Made In Hawaii Category at the Hawaii International Film Festival. It also won the Feature Film, Audience Choice Award,” said Lacy.

    The film has raised awareness of prison systems and programs, like the one in Arizona. “People leave the film feeling educated and also wanting to see a correctional justice system that is aimed more at rehabilitation and education rather than just punishment,” said producer Beau Bassett.

    “Out of State” educates the audience and left many people thinking about the difficulties of trying to rebuild a life and finding identity through culture. “I think it’s left a lot of people having conversations. I’ve had people say that the film haunts them—that they think about it the next day, a couple weeks later. As an artist and somebody who wants to create change in our community, I think that’s very powerful. I think it means a lot because if you’re still thinking about it, we did something—it struck a chord with you and that’s what we want,” said Lacy.

    “Out of State” gives the audience insight into how the program in Arizona helps the prisoners face life after their release. “The goal with that was, we’d seen a lot of really incredible work that the men were doing with each other in the prison setting, then to see how internal and cultural identification transformation in the prison setting; how does that inoculate you against all the pressures and difficulties of trying to build your life again? Is it enough? For us it was really important to show that half of it,” said Lacy.

    The main purpose of the program was to help provide the inmates with something that they could hold on to and connect with as they returned home and attempted to rebuild their lives. “The program taught me to connect with my kupuna (elderly), ohana (family), and mo opuna’s (grandchildren) in ways that I was neglecting throughout my life. It gave me sensibility and direction in finding the path to my identity. Who I am as kane (man), what is my place, and where I am headed,” said Gualdarama.

    “Out of State” is scheduled to continue screening in cities across the globe, ranging from Sydney, Australia to Kansas City, Missouri. To find out more about “Out of State,” visit their website, www.outofstatefilm.com.