How do we save Hawai‘i’s world War II story alive so that its lessons proceed to resonate for generations come come? it’s a challenging question that anyone connected in happen on history likely battles with, be they educators, museum directors, battle veterans and also their progeny or parents.

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One of the most hopeful efforts is the freshly released film, “Under the Blood Red Sun,” i beg your pardon is based on the novel the the same name by children book writer Graham “Sandy” Salisbury. In the early on 1990s, the Hawai‘i-born Salisbury had set out to create a book around the battle of Pearl Harbor because that young readers. He started by asking himself a basic question: “What have to it have been choose to have actually been a young human being in Honolulu ~ above the job Pearl Harbor was bombed?”

“Under the Blood Red Sun” walk on to offer 3 million copies. Children and also adults alike indigenous all throughout America were attracted into his story of two young guys whose friendship and moral character room tested throughout one that the bleakest periods in Hawai‘i’s history.

“Under the Blood Red Sun” to be the very first of several human being War II-era books that Salisbury would pen — every aimed at getting to young readers, yet fascinating enough to tempt adult readers, as well. “Under the Blood Red Sun” was followed by “House of the Red Fish,” “Eye the the Emperor” and, his recent release, “Hunt for the Bamboo Rat.”

The period was of one-of-a-kind interest come Salisbury since his father, together a single man, was at Pearl harbor on the morning the bombs fell. He had just obtained off his ship, the USS West Virginia, and was walking away from it as soon as Japanese planes began their assault. His father spent that day helping to put out fires and also caring for the injured. Salisbury’s parents later married. By then, his father had end up being a marine pilot. Two months prior to Salisbury’s an initial birthday, his aircraft was shot under in the Pacific theater, killing his father instantly.

A stunned Tomi and also Billy angry the attack on Pearl Harbor indigenous theirfavorite tree spot.

A gifted storyteller, Salisbury blends real-life experiences through library research and also first-person interviews. Indigenous those composing experiences, the learned to recognize what he refers to as “the Pigeon Moment” — a pivotal allude in his story.

In “Under the Blood Red Sun,” Salisbury occurred upon the “pigeon moment,” which he defines as a “serendipitous,” while visiting his uncle, that was then publisher that the Honolulu Advertiser. His uncle’s secretary overheard the two males talking around the publication Salisbury was writing and offered to introduce him to her husband, who had witnessed the bombing of Pearl Harbor native his home in Kalihi as an 11-year-old boy. She husband also told Salisbury around the FBI agent ordering the to kill his father’s understanding pigeons. The story found a place in Salisbury’s book — and became one of the dramatic highlights in the movie.

“My mission in storytelling really is to show kids how to navigate life and also make decision that room going to command them come a much better life,” defined Salisbury in the DVD’s supplemental commentary. “Education,” that said, “is the only method we’re going come get beyond the ignorance of our past.”

Salisbury’s gift for informing stories is what attractive filmmakers Dana Satler Hankins and Tim Savage to “Under the Blood Red Sun,” the book, and also then got them envisioning a full-length function movie.

The story opens up in Honolulu in the job leading up to Japan’s battle of Pearl Harbor. Through Japan’s raising aggression in the Pacific, life in Hawai‘i is currently showing signs of gyeongju tension.

“Under the Blood Red Sun” attributes a multigenerational mix of characters of various ethnicities, but is told generally through the eye of two boys just entering their teen years — Tomikazu “Tomi” Nakaji, a Hawai‘i-born Japanese American, and also his ideal friend, a haole boy called Billy Davis. Overnight, your happy, carefree lives playing baseball and climbing trees and also hanging the end in the woods close to their residences is turn upside down with the battle of Pearl Harbor. Life because that Tomi becomes specifically challenging. But his friendship with Billy stays steady together a rock.

The battle throws the Nakaji family’s human being into a tailspin due to the fact that of your Japanese ethnicity. Tomi’s dad is arrested by the FBI and taken directly from his fishing boat to one internment in ~ Sand Island, where he is hosted with various other Japanese men. His fishing partner is killed. Tomi’s grandfather, a proud and also nationalistic Issei, is caught in between two conflict countries and cultures. V his dad interned, Tomi is required to become the head that the Nakaji household: He have to speak with federal government officials and even review English materials for his immigrant mother. Tomi confronts the fear, harassment, hatred, bullying and also discrimination the the times as a young boy and yet with the innocent courage that a get an impression man.

Although Tomi and Billy live in ~ walking distance of each other, castle come from different social classes. Billy’s dad is an executive through Matson, which operates luxury liners. Tomi’s immigrant father fishes for a living and also raises chickens for their eggs and their meat; his mommy is a housekeeper for the household on whose building the Nakajis live in a basic wooden structure.

Producer Dana Hankins claimed she was drawn to the story since of Tomi’s character and what he encounters in terms of prejudice and also discrimination. She said she was impressed by the kinds of character values he displays. “We all hope the we will certainly embody those same personalities values under those circumstances.”

Ten years after she an initial read it, Hankins provided a copy that the publication to her longtime friend, neighborhood film director Tim Savage, who felt one immediate link to the story. Both he and Hankins feel it to be story that required to it is in told on the big screen.

The Sand Island internment camp scene was filmed on a collection created atKalaeloa.

Hankins tracked down Salisbury and pitched the idea. The two then started talking around what Salisbury required to perform to transform the book into a screenplay, something he had actually never excellent before. She likewise introduced him to Tim Savage and the project started to pick up steam.

Filming took place over 17 job in November 2013. It to be a tight production schedule necessitated by an equally tight manufacturing budget. Hankins decreased to relax the film’s budget, however said resources came indigenous a variety of sources, including an investor; donations, both monetary and in-kind, native the community; a manufacturing loan; diminished rates because that supplies and services and even a kickstarter crowdsourcing campaign. The movie still has some superior bills to pay, added Hankins.

Filming took ar at several locations on O‘ahu — Hawaii’s Plantation village in Waipahu, in dwellings in Nu‘uanu and along Old Pali Road, at Roosevelt High School, in downtown Honolulu and at Kalaeloa for the Sand Island internment camp scenes. Finding locations and capturing shots that portrayed Hawai‘i in the 1940s to be a challenge, yet one the filmmakers overcame. The beauty of 1940s Hawai‘i comes v in the cinematography and also original music scores and also the direction that Tim Savage.

But the actual stars that the film space the cast members and the characters they so convincingly portray. Most of the young actors to be making their film debut in “Under the Blood Red Sun,” but each hosted their own, beginning with Kyler Ki Sakamoto, who plays Tomi, and Kalama Epstein as Billy. Bryce Moore is excellent as Keet Wilson, that picks increase on the anti-Japanese sentiments that his father and begins bullying Tomi, that was as soon as his friend.

Mina Kohara, that was simply 8 years old as soon as the film to be shot, is a organic as Tomi’s tiny sister Kimi. The main adult gibbs — Dann Seki together hard-headed Grampa; loss Ogawa as Mama Nakaji, Tomi’s mother; kris Tashima together Papa Nakaji and also Wil Kahele together Charlie, the yardkeeper — rotate in impressive performances, through an equally strong supporting cast.Each actor brought strength come his or her role. Placed them all together and also you have actually the great film the is “Under the Blood Red Sun.”

In the supplemental commentary on the DVD, Savage claimed that finding just the best young boy to pat Tomi was a six-year quest. It was really important role because Tomi shows up in every one of the film’s 140 scenes, that said. As soon as Kyler Sakamoto auditioned for the role, they knew immediately that they had discovered their Tomi.

Salisbury was just as impression by Kyler’s acting abilities, describing that as just a “basic, unassuming kid,” off-camera. “But you put him behind a camera and, boom, he’s on,” Salisbury said. “And, the young man deserve to make deals with that can pull turn off that kind of emotion the I’m talk about,” the added.

Kalama Epstein, that plays Billy, knew the “Under the Blood Red Sun” story even before he was cast for the film. Kalama had read the publication in the third grade and again as a class assignment in the sixth grade. His character is native a civic-minded kind of family, therefore he understands respect and also fairness and sees a person’s true character rather than their position in culture — i m sorry is why Billy and also Tomi, regardless of their vastly various backgrounds, space rock-solid friends.

Kyler and also Kalama to be both 13 years old when the bulk of the film to be shot. One step that had actually to be shot 6 months later, in the spring of 2014, was Tomi’s swim to the Sand Island internment camp to see through his very own eyes that his father to be alive. That scene concerned Savage and Hankins since most boys in between the ages of 13 and also 15 adjust and maturation dramatically, even within the short span of 6 months, Savage noted.

The actual strength that “Under the Blood Red Sun” is its capacity to teach by example and through the show of cultural strength and sensitivity, fairly than by lecturing.In the end, Savage stated he hopes the film will present viewers “how to live their lives once they’re faced with adversity.”

Dan “Grampa” Seki echoed those thoughts. He stated an examination of history from then (the people War II years) to now and into the future is “still appropriate as seen in existing events.”“Hopefully, us are learning something native the mistakes we made in the past and also will use it to what’s going ~ above now and not make the same mistakes again, moving into the future.”

“Under the Blood Red Sun” is accessible for acquisition in DVD and also Blu-Ray native the Japanese social Center the Hawai‘i gift shop and at Fisher Hawaii. The can also be perceived online at

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Monetary donations to counter the staying production prices are still being accepted and can be made through the film’s nonprofit 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor, Hawai‘i community Television. Make checks payable come Hawai‘i neighborhood Television through “Under the Blood Red Sun” top top the notation line, and also mail come Hawai‘i neighborhood Television, P.O. Crate 61816, Hon., hi 96839.