Oscar-Qualified Queer Love Story ‘Aikāne’ Debuts Online

by Mercedes Milligan – Animation Magazine – November 23, 2023

Aikāne, the latest award-winning animated short from the team behind Kapaemahu, has been made available to watch online for free through queer news and culture outlet Them. Titled after the Hawaiian term for an intimate companion of the same sex, the 14-minute 2D piece is a supernatural romance about a brave warrior and his shape-shifting lover and advisor who make a stand against colonial forces.

A valiant island warrior, wounded in battle against foreign invaders, falls into a mysterious underwater world. When the octopus who rescued him transforms into a handsome young man, they become aikāne, intimate friends bound by love and trust, and an epic adventure begins.

The short was conceived by Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, a married couple who began their filmmaking careers with a documentary about the reaction to their own same-sex marriage in Wilson’s small hometown. While the film most prominently draws from Native Hawaiian mythology, it also takes inspiration from LGBTQ+ legends from around the world — including Celtic Europe, ancient Greece and the Isle of Man in the Irish Sea. The settings are based on the couple’s free-diving experiences.

Important guidance was provided by producer Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a mahu (transgender) Native Hawaiian culture bearer. The team also included director and animator Daniel Sousa, who honed the look of the film’s imaginative settings; executive producers Judith Light and Daniel Karslake; and Dan Golden providing music and sound design. The film is a production of Qwaves and Kanaka Pakipaka.

Aikāne made its festival premiere at Animayo and the Seattle International Film Festival in May, and has since earned a flurry of awards — including Academy Awards qualifiers from the Hawai’i International Film Festival (Best Made in Hawai’i Short), New Hampshire Film Festival (Animated Shorts Jury Award).

In addition to the online screening on Them, festival goers can catch screenings of Aikāne at the current Native Cinema Showcase at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC (Nov. 17-24) and the upcoming Palermo International Film Festival (January 31) and AniMate (Sydney, March 3).

Watch Aikāne on Them.us now. Check out the trailer below and learn more about the film and other works by the filmmaking team at qwaves.com.

Full article here.