Pronunciation and Style Guide
Pronunciation: Pili Ka Mo‘o [Pee-Lee Kah MOH-oh]

When writing the title, please make sure to use an ‘okina in Mo‘o.

If possible in listings, please list Malia Akutagawa, Associate Producer along with the Director. It is ok to list titles and names, or just names.

A film by | Justyn Ah Chong with Malia Akutagawa (Kanaka Maoli)

Producers | Taylor Hensel, Adam Mazo, Kavita Pillay, and Tracy Rector.

The Fukumitsu ‘Ohana (family) of Hakipu‘u are Native Hawaiian taro farmers, keepers of this generational practice. While much of O‘ahu has become urbanized, Hakipu‘u remains a kīpuka (oasis) of traditional knowledge where great chiefs once resided and their bones still remain. The Fukumitsus are tossed into a world of complex real estate and judicial proceedings when nearby Kualoa Ranch, a large settler-owned corporation, destroys their familial burials to make way for continued development plans.

A Native Hawaiian taro farming family is drawn into a logistically and emotionally complex quest to preserve their ancestral land.

About Reciprocity Project
Facing a climate crisis, Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since the beginning of time. To heal, we must recognize that we are in relationship with Earth, a place that was in balance since time immemorial. This short film series and multimedia platform invites learning from time-honored and current Indigenous ways of being. Reciprocity Project is a co-production of Nia Tero and Upstander Project, in association with REI Co-op Studios.

Technical Specifications
TRT | 14 minutes
Aspect Ratio | 16:9
Format | Digital
Audio | Stereo
Language | English
Location | Filmed in the occupied Kingdom of Hawai’i.


Justyn Ah Chong (Kānaka Maoli) is an award-winning Native Hawaiian filmmaker from O‘ahu, Hawai‘i. After graduating from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts in 2011, Justyn worked as a director, cinematographer and editor at ‘Ōiwi Television Network, Hawaii's premiere Indigenous broadcast station. His acclaimed film “Down on the Sidewalk In Waikiki” premiered at Māoriland Film Festival in New Zealand, winning the People’s Choice Award for Best Short Drama. The film has screened at festivals around the world, including the imagineNATIVE Film Festival in Toronto, the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and the 307 Film Festival in Wyoming, where it won Best of Fest. Justyn is producing two short narrative films, “Hawaiian Soul” and “E Malama Pono Willy Boy,” and is developing a feature-length documentary, “Bury Me Green.” He's a 2020 Nia Tero 4th World Media Lab fellow and continues to share culturally-inspired, place-based stories through his production company, Olonā Media

Community Partner & Associate Producer
Malia Akutagawa is an Associate Professor of Law and Hawaiian Studies with both the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge – Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the William S. Richardson School of Law. Malia’s scholarship includes State and federal laws protecting iwi kūpuna (Native ancestral burials), preserving cultural and historic sites, and engaging Native communities and stakeholders in consultation on these matters. She is particularly interested in the integration of Native, Indigenous Hawaiian methodologies, customary law, and governance principles founded by the ancient ‘Aha Kiole (People’s Councils) and incorporated into law under the Statewide ‘Aha Moku Advisory Committee (AMAC).

Artist statement
It seems that now more than ever, Native Hawaiian burials are being dug up and ancestral remains disturbed for the sake of continued “development,” “progress,” and economic gain here in the occupied Hawaiian Kingdom. By highlighting the Fukumitsu family and their ongoing struggle to protect their ‘iwi kūpuna (family burials), we hope to shed light on the reciprocal relationship Native Hawaiians maintain with their family beyond the veil, allowing others to see that for us it isn’t simply old bones in the ground but rather treasures worth protecting at all costs.

About Reciprocity Project
In Season One of this multimedia project, storytellers and community partners created films in response to a question: What does ‘reciprocity’ mean to you and your community? Facing a climate crisis, the Reciprocity Project embraces Indigenous value systems that have bolstered communities since time immemorial.Reciprocity Project invites global Indigenous filmmakers to center Indigenous perspectives about the reciprocal relationship between all beings — seen and unseen — and the lands we inhabit.


Nia Tero is a US-based non-profit working in solidarity with Indigenous peoples and movements worldwide with a mission of securing Indigenous guardianship of vital ecosystems. Nia Tero is committed to an antiracist and inclusive culture centering Indigenous rights, wisdom, practices, worldviews, and protocols.

Upstander Project
is a Boston-based non-profit that uses storytelling to amplify silenced narratives, develop upstander skills to challenge systemic injustice, and nurture compassionate, courageous relationships that honor the interconnection of all beings and the Earth. Upstander Project envisions a world rooted in responsibility and respect for all where upstanders confront injustice and repair harm to ensure all beings thrive together.

REI Co-op Studios develops and produces stories that entertain, enrich and explore the power of time spent outside, while complementing the co-op’s broader climate and racial equity, diversity, and inclusion commitments.

PRESS & Acclaim

“To unearth our kupuna in the ground is like the final eviction,” a quote from the film, lingers in my mind| as a fellow Native Hawaiian. It is a reminder that the spiritual war featured in PILI KA MO‘O clearly ties back to the Colonization of Hawai’i and the dark side of Capitalism.”
-Ciara Lacy

Pili Ka Mo‘o has screened at film festival around the globe, including Hawai‘i International Film Festival, Skábmagovat Indigenous Peoples’ Film Festival, Big Sky Documentary Film Festival, Durango Independent Film Festival, Cartagena International Film Festival, Environmental Film Festival in The Nation's Capital, Seattle International Film Festival, Riverside International Film Festival, Independent Film Festival Boston, CAAMfest, Mountainfilm, Folklife Festival, Wairoa Māori Film Festival, deadCenter Film Festival, Māoriland Film Festival, Maui Film Festival, BlackStar Film Festival, The International First Peoples Festival Présence Autochtone, Regina International Film Festival and Awards, DC Asian Pacific American Film Festival, Asian American International Film Festival, Asinabka Film & Media Arts Festival, 307 International Film Festival, Local Sightings
Film Festival, Nuuk International Film Festival, Edmonton International Film Festival, Woodstock Film Festival, and imagineNATIVE Film and Media Festival.


Best Documentary Short - Māoriland Film Festival, 2022
Honorable Mention
- 2022 Jackson Wild Media Awards
San Francisco / Northern California Regional Emmy
- Diversity/Equity/Inclusion, News or Long Form Content, 2023

Podcast Episodes about the film



Pili Ka Mo‘o

A film by Justyn Ah Chong
Filmed in the Occupied Hawaiian Kingdom
A Nia Tero and Upstander Project Production In association with REI Co-op Studios

Malia H.K. Akutagawa
Kamakani‘okahaku Fukumitsu
Ke‘aleikeanowai Fukumitsu
Keoki Fukumitsu
Kōlea Ekemaliakaehukai
Makanani Fukumitsu
Navahine‘omakali‘i Fukumitsu
Summer Day Fukumitsu
Teahiroa Fukumitsu

Ka‘olonānalapa‘a Ah Chong

Malia Akutagawa

Justyn Ah Chong

Justyn Ah Chong
Nick Stone

Jacob Bearchum

Eleni Ledesma

‘Āina Paikai

“Calm Surf (Instrumental)” by Nature Noise
“Standing Up, Seeing (Instrumental)” by Jesse Kees
“Evidence (Instrumental)” by Liv Signe
“Strategic Invasion (Instrumental)” by Liam Back
“Aloha ‘Āina Meds” by Ku‘ulei Music & Ikaakamai
“Standing” by C3NC

Ivy Lagod

Courtesy of Summer Day Fukumitsu

Ko Hawai‘i Pae ‘Āina, lands ofthe Kānaka Maoli

‘Ohana Fukumitsu

For Series Credits please see the Season One Press Kit

Download the pdf press kit and trailer.


Pili Ka Mo'o still 1

Pili Ka Mo'o still 2

Pili Ka Mo'o Poster

Pili Ka Mo'o Director Justyn Ah Chong

Pili Ka Mo'o Associate Producer Malia Akutagawa

Press Kit PDF, Learning Materials, Transcript


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Updated | May 15, 2024