Ciara Leina`ala Lacy

Grantee:  Ciara Leina`ala Lacy
Native Citizenship:  Kanaka Maoli
Location:  Hawaii
Award:  2018 National Artist Fellowship
Discipline:  Artistic Innovation
Web Site:  ciaralacy.com

Filmmaker Ciara Leina`ala Lacy (Kanaka Maoli) is driven by her commitment to social justice, representation, and the dynamic resilience of Native Hawaiian culture.

Lacy explains “Today, critical conversations about the omission of people of color, including that of Native Hawaiians, from the visual record of movies are taking place. We as Native people need to create work to remedy the issue, not relying on Hollywood to do so, particularly as I’ve witnessed the power of my people responding to seeing their stories told on screen with my work.”

Having honed her craft in New York and Los Angeles, the Hawaii-based documentarian’s directorial debut, Out of State, will broadcast on PBS’s Independent Lens in 2018. Out of State explores complex questions of cultural and religious identity; the overabundance of Native Hawaiians and minorities in the prison system; the cycle of criminal behavior and its impact on the family; and prisoner entitlement. Her next project, The Ninth Island, will examine the economic inequities forcing many Native Hawaiians to seek a living away from their homeland.

Lacy received her Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy from Yale University.

As our connection to our lands dissipates due to economic hardship, I worry that physical distance challenges the oneness of our community as native people. I want to explore this fracturing, helping re-envision who we are and how we can grow and change with time. I can’t rewrite history, but I can influence our future. The only option is better, and I’m committed to helping write that story.

~ Ciara Leina`ala Lacy

In 2007, the state of Hawaiʻi outsourced the care of roughly two thousand of its male prisoners to a private, for-profit prison on the continental U.S. Now, deep in the desert of Arizona, exiled thousands of miles across the ocean from their island home, a group of indigenous Hawaiian inmates have discovered their calling on the inside––teaching each other their native language and dances while behind bars. As several of the men complete their sentences, the film follows their reintegration back home in Hawaiʻi. Ciara Leina`ala Lacy’s Out of State is in an hour-long, character-driven documentary set to debut on PBS’ Independent Lens in 2018.

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