Hawaii Film Blog

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Kayo Hatta (1958-2005)

Kayo Hatta, a champion of independent film in Hawaii and elsewhere, and best known as the director and co-writer of "Picture Bride" (1995), passed away on Wednesday, July 20th, in a tragic drowning accident. She was 47.

Born in Hawaii, Hatta's family moved to New York when she was six years old. She received a BA in English Literature from Stanford University and an MFA in Film Production from UCLA, where she won the Kuwahara Creative Arts Award, the UCLA Women's Affiliates Award, and the Dorothy Arzner Award, given to an outstanding woman director.

"Picture Bride," Hatta's debut feature which was shot entirely on location in Hawaii, tells the story of a young woman who leaves a difficult life in Japan in 1918 to marry a Hawaii plantation worker she knows only through letters and photos. "Picture Bride" was an Official Selection at the 1994 Cannes Film Festival and won the Audience Award for Best Dramatic Film at the 1995 Sundance Film Festival prior to being acquired by Miramax.

Hatta also directed a number of short films, including award-winning drama "Otemba" (Tomboy) (1988), and most recently, "Fishbowl" (2005), based on Lois-Ann Yamanaka's first novel, Wild Meat and the Bully Burgers. A coming-of-age story, "Fishbowl" was shot on location in Honolulu and on Oahu's North Shore. The film premiered at the San Francisco International Asian American Film Festival this past March, will show at this year's Hawaii International Film Festival in October, and will air on PBS during the 2005-06 season of "Independent Lens."

In 1999, six years after wrapping production on "Picture Bride," Hatta told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, "making your own film provides a sense of empowerment, you have more control than on a mainstream film." She added that indie filmmakers mustn't forget that even "art films" have to make money: "The bottom line is always will this product sell. But the filmmakers' decision is whether to create a Big Mac or a hamburger from Kua 'Aina."

A public memorial service will be held to honor and remember Kayo Hatta. Please see the details below from her family.

Celebrations of Kayo Hatta's Life
(March 18, 1958 - July 20, 2005)

As many of you have heard by now, our beloved sister, Kayo Hatta, passed away on Wednesday, July 20th, in a drowning accident.

There will be a public memorial service in Honolulu open to friends and the general public:
Date: Sunday, July 31st
Time: 1:00 pm
Location: Moiliili Hongwanji Buddhist Church, 902 University Avenue

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to:
Asian Improv aRts / Kayo Hatta Fund
201 Spear St., Ste 1650
San Francisco, CA 94105

Deepest thanks to all of you for your love and support.

Much love,
Julie and Mari, on behalf of the Hatta Family and Doug Hetrick (Kayo's fiance)


>> Kayo Hatta, pioneering filmmaker [Hnl Advertiser, 7/26/05]
>> "Picture Bride" filmmaker drowns [Hnl Star-Bulletin, 7/25/05]
>> "Picture Bride" Director Kayo Hatta Dies [AP/SF Chronicle, 7/26/05]
>> Profile for Kayo Hatta, Program for Media Artists
>> "Picture Bride" (Official Site)
>> "Fishbowl" (Official Site)
>> FLASHBACK: Independent filmmaker Kayo Hatta shares the pros and cons of making her own film and surviving [Hnl Star-Bulletin, 10/25/99]


>> Cultural Insensitivity

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