Hawaii filmmaker Edgy Lee thought she already knew plenty about the legacy of Queen Lydia Lili‘uokalani when she signed up to create a documentary commemorating the 100th anniversary of the death of Hawaii’s last monarch.
Lee quickly realized that wasn’t the case once she began working on “Reflections of Our Queen,” which airs uninterrupted at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 26 and Dec. 10 on KHNL. Not only was Lili‘uokalani a fierce proponent of an independent Hawaiian kingdom, she also stood up for women’s rights even after the overthrow of the monarchy in 1893.
“She was extremely intelligent and knew much about intellectual property rights, international diplomacy and political strategy,” Lee said. “She was unbelievably compassionate. She was really an interesting, innovative woman in a time when women had no rights.”
Sponsored by the Queen Lili‘uokalani Trust and nonprofit Hui Hanai, the 78-minute documentary provides a glimpse into the personal life of the queen through stories and memories shared by kupuna and their descendants. Shot on location at Iolani Palace, the documentary is narrated by musician and kumu hula Robert Cazimero, with celebrated Hawaiian entertainer Marlene Sai providing the voice of Lili‘uokalani.
Lee hopes to secure national broadcast distribution for “Reflections of Our Queen” and plans to release clips of the film online for educational purposes. The Queen Lili‘uokalani Children’s Center will host future screening events for local students.
“What we hope the film will help with is getting her noticed among mainstream American historians,” she said. “She deserves a rightful place in American history as a leader.
“Her experience did not thwart this woman. She continued to do what she wanted as best as she could during those times. We look back with appreciation and hope to take this film outside of Hawaii to help teach people nationally and internationally. I think people will be proud of her.”