Watch Cane Fire
- 1 hr 30 min
Cane Fire is a powerful and emotional documentary that explores the turbulent history of Hawaii's sugar industry and its impact on the people and culture of the islands. Directed by Anthony Banua-Simon, the film is a deeply personal and resonant exploration of the legacy of colonialism, labor exploitation, and environmental degradation that continue to affect Hawaii to this day.
The film opens with stunning aerial shots of the sugarcane fields, accompanied by the haunting sounds of traditional Hawaiian music. From there, we are introduced to a diverse cast of characters, each with a unique perspective on the issues surrounding the sugar industry. There are former plantation workers and their families, environmental activists, historians, and cultural advocatesâall of whom share a deep connection to the land and a commitment to preserving Hawaii's rich cultural heritage.
One of the most compelling aspects of Cane Fire is the way it weaves together individual stories with broader historical and political contexts. We learn about the long and complex history of Hawaii's sugar industry, from the arrival of the first sugar plantations in the mid-19th century to the devastating impact of the global sugar glut on the local economy in the 1990s. We also learn about the role of the sugar companies in shaping Hawaii's political landscape, and the ways in which labor and environmental activists have fought back against their abuses.
Throughout the film, we see how the legacy of the sugar industry continues to shape Hawaii's present-day reality. We learn about the profound social and economic changes that have come with the decline of sugar, and the ongoing struggles over land use and environmental justice. We also witness the vibrant cultural revival happening across the islands, as a new generation of activists and artists work to reclaim and celebrate their heritage.
Perhaps the most powerful aspect of Cane Fire, however, is the way it foregrounds the voices of those who have been most affected by the sugar industry's legacy. We hear from former plantation workers and their families, who recount stories of back-breaking labor, meager wages, and racism. We hear from environmental activists who have fought to protect their communities from pollution and other forms of harm. And we hear from cultural advocates who are working to document and revitalize traditional Hawaiian knowledge and practices.
Throughout it all, director Anthony Banua-Simon maintains a deeply empathetic and respectful approach to his subjects. He allows them to tell their stories in their own words, and gives ample space for their voices to be heard. This approach not only makes for a more emotionally resonant viewing experience, but also highlights the importance of centering marginalized voices in any conversation about social justice and equity.
Overall, Cane Fire is a profound and deeply moving documentary that offers a powerful meditation on the complex legacies of colonialism, capitalism, and exploitation. It is an urgent call to action for all of us to reckon with the past and work towards a more just and equitable future. Whether you have a personal connection to Hawaii or you simply care about social justice issues, this film is essential viewing.
Cane Fire is a 2020 documentary with a runtime of 1 hour and 30 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.4 and a MetaScore of 78.