E Haku Inoa: To Weave a Name takes a deep look at the importance of culturally minded care in the field of behavioral health and how easy it is for providers and trainers to take their own cultural biases for granted. The film touches upon how women and families can find themselves caught up in the child welfare system that does not always have proper cultural training and can cause unintentional damage through separation of families.The film also illustrates connections between the cultural suppression of indigenous people and the mental and social repercussions that still resonate through subsequent generations.
Culture, neurobiology, psychiatry, developmental psychology and social systems clash, augment and clarify the process of survival, resilience, integration, identity and healing between (and within) these two indigenous Hawaiian women. This film is exceptional in its instructive value to educators and students of health, behavioral and social sciences.
When Christen was born her Mother, a kumu hula or master hula practitioner, gave her a Hawaiian name that was over sixty letters. In the mid-80's at the age of eight Christen and her two younger brothers were separated from their Mother Elena due to a diagnosis as a schizophrenic. After the separation Christen moved to the continental United States and without her Mother Christen grew up feeling deep a sense of longing to know more about her Hawaiian culture. After graduating from NYU film school, Marquez resolved to return to Hawai`i and make a film that would document her journey back home.
E Haku Inoa: To Weave A Name is an elegant depiction of how the act of sharing indigenous knowledge can play a healing role in restoring otherwise estranged relationships. “Before
beginning this project I had only seen my Mother once in over 15 years. When I returned for the first time our interactions were strained because we were essentially strangers. I think what makes this story incredible is that over that course of the film you see the emotional changes not only in my Mother and I, but the gradual rebuilding of our relationship.”, says Director Christen Marquez.
E Haku Inoa is a very moving and powerful film exploring the intersections of personal discovery, family, culture, and mental illness. Christen’s personal journey through weaving her Hawaiian name and reconnecting with her ‘ohana transforms our understanding of what it means to be mentally ill and the impact culture, connection, and family can have on healing and restoration.