SAN BENITO — A filmmaker and San Benito native, who now calls Los Angeles home, will be here scouting for his new movie.
Kahea Kiwaha is a writer and director who has been pursuing film for the past seven years.
The L.A. Film School and American Academy of Dramatic Arts graduate plans to showcase stories from his hometown.
That’s what he’s here doing in San Benito.
“During my time here, I’ve come to realize how important it is for me to showcase the stories of where I’m from,” he said. “I’m incredibly passionate about giving Latino’s a voice and showing our culture in a mainstream platform that is still relatable to others.”
Last year, Kiwaha was chosen as a Fellow for Outfest’s Young Filmmaker Program.
Outfest is one of the largest LGBT Film Festival Organizations in the world and strives to showcase the work of those underrepresented in media, film and TV, primarily LGBT and people of color.
“Participating in the program was inspiring and propelled my need to tell honest stories from a new perspective,” Kiwaha said.
Just recently, his short film “I Was” was chosen for the 2016 Outfest Fusion One Minute Movie Competition and won the Jury Award.
His new project will feature local talent, filmmakers and artists.
“It’s incredibly important to me to collaborate with the community because my hopes are that it will empower others to tell their stories. I would have loved that as a kid. I’d also like to start establishing working relationships in the Valley to keep on making movies there,” he said.
This film follows two teenage sisters in a small town in South Texas.
“They find out their young friend is pregnant. Desperate to help her, they go on a mission to get the Plan B pill. Not as easy as they thought it’d be, their relationship is challenged as the real reason for their journey starts to unfold,” Kiwaha explained.
The inspiration for this story comes from his own relationship with his sisters.
Kiwaha is the oldest and only brother of five with the youngest two, 14 and 15 years old, being the subjects of his new film.
“I wanted to explore family and the bond of sisterhood as it relates to the social and political culture of the Valley,” he said.
For that, he and his crew plan on being in San Benito between Aug 11 and 20.
So far, all of the locations are in San Benito.
“I am in contact with the RGV Film Commission in the event that we need a particular location that might not be available for us,” Kiwaha said.
“Right now our confirmed locations are Action Video (my sanctuary), the exteriors (as the sisters trek through San Benito) are idyllic San Benito landmarks for me being resacas, trails, raspa stands, taco stands, etc. We are still looking for our church.”
This short film is being produced for a festival run, as well as an accompanying full length feature script which he will submit into various film directing and producing lab programs next year, including but not limited to Sundance, SXSW, and Film Independent’s Project Involve.
“I would like to highlight that this project is the beginning of many projects that I hope to shoot back home and it means a great deal to me to establish a base with other Valley filmmakers,” Kiwaha said.
“Both my co-writer and co-producer are from the Valley and I look forward to collaborating with other potential emerging RGV talent.”