Kumu hula. Musician. Teacher. Cultural practitioner. Living treasure. True friend. These are some of the many ways that people have described Carolee Nishi. And hundreds (maybe even thousands) now her simply as Auntie Carolee. If you ask her, she’ll tell you she’s just a community volunteer. So don’t ask her, because everyone who knows Auntie Carolee will tell you that she’s much more than that.
Hawai‘i’s first lady, Dawn Amano-Ige, is a wife (married to Gov. David Ige), a mother of three, a sister and a daughter. Dawn’s mother, Mitsue Amano, provided childcare for the Ige kids when Dawn was a young, working mother and David was a new legislator. Today, at 94 years old, Mitsue is no longer the family’s caregiver. That’s now Dawn’s role.
From a very young age, Carole Kai showed a flair for the dramatic — sometimes pulling a bedsheet off the clothesline and holding it tightly across her shoulders while flying around the backyard like a superhero. Other times, she showed a more businesslike approach — like the time she hosted a boxing match in her backyard and sold tickets to neighborhood kids for 5 cents apiece.
It’s taken local girl Stacey Hayashi more than 15 years to bring this story of the 100th/442nd and MIS to the big screen. Her dream — to perpetuate stories like this for today’s youth and for future generations — took perseverance and sacrifice, like that of the veterans she passionately honors with this film.