Friday, March 19, 2010

Princess Ka'iulani Movie Update

The movie about Princess Ka’iulani of Hawaii, which I blogged about last fall is set to be released on May 14, 2010. Originally titled, “Barbarian Princess”, it appears to have been renamed “Princess Kaiulani.” It stars Q’orianka Kilcher, who previously starred as Pocahontas in “The New World” released in 2005. Barry Pepper (“Flags of Our Fathers”) costars. It is the story of Queen Lilioukalani’s heir and very young niece, who attempts to maintain Hawaii’s independence against the threat of American annexation.

The official theatrical trailer can be seen at at

After seeing my blog last fall, Melloney Cunnell of Matador Pictures in London emailed me to say she didn’t know which theaters would be showing the film. In February the U.S. firm Roadside Attractions purchased the rights to distribute the film in 2010. I’m afraid it might only be a limited release, shown in art theaters for a short run, and I might miss it. It was not shown at Cannes.

The showings in Honolulu last October 2009 during the Hawaii International Film Festival were sold out, even as the protests raged as it was shown under the original derogatory title “Barbarian Princess”. Ka’iulani is still a much beloved figure in Hawaiian history, even though her story is virtually unknown here in the United States.

According to Hawaiian friends who saw the premiere of “Princess Kaiulani”, the movie includes scenes of her education in England, her return trip to the America upon hearing of Queen Lili’uokalani’s arrest, and scenes of her trip to Boston before she returned to Hawaii. I know that Ka’iulani visited MIT, where her guardian’s son was attending classes. I hope this is part of the movie, since my husband is an MIT graduate. I also hope that the family connections to Boston are part of the story line.

Interestingly, the ’Iolani Palace posted this on their Facebook page 11 March 2010:
This is official media statement from the Friends of 'Iolani Palace explaining why filming was allowed at 'Iolani Palace: "The Friends of Iolani Palace decided to allow Princess Productions, LLC to film a drama about the life of Princess Kaiulani in order to educate the general public about the history of Hawaii and the Palace. The Friends believe that this is consistent with our mission statement, to share this wonderful historic treasure with the world. The film will also bring the story of the Hawaiian monarchy to a global audience, and encourage moviegoers to visit Iolani Palace and learn more about the history of Hawaii."

This disclaimer appears at the end of the film when they roll the credits: "The Friends of 'Iolani Palace does not vouch for the historical accuracy of persons and events depicted in the film."


  1. I loved the movie trailer, looks very interesting as well as the superior photography. Since I love indie movies, and try to keep up with them, I will alert you if I see anything. Perhaps Lexington or Waltham will have it, or Boston (Kenmore).

  2. The official release date for the film is May 14 2010 in the following cities: Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Diego, San Francisco, Phoenix, New York, and various locations in the Hawaiian Islands including Oahu, Maui, the big island, and Kauai. Expanded city engagements will follow throughout the summer. For additional information and some production stills, please contact me.