Featured Filmmaker: Susan Kucera, Director, Cinematographer and Producer of “Breath of Life”

Tonight at 5:00pm at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center’s Castle Theater, produer/director/cinematographer Susan Kucera presents her documentary BREATH OF LIFE, which brings the message “we have tremendous problems generated by ourselves but limited ability to know how to deal with them.”

Susan, along with a crew and cast that includes many Hawaii residents and voices, has invited Vene Chun (one of the film’s Hawaiian voices) and 11 cast members from Ulalena (a music & dance production inspired by Hawaiian history) to open and close the screening with a blessing and performance.

Join in support of the film’s powerful message and learn from many important scholars and cultural leaders – all in the comfort of your chair at the movies – tonight at 5pm.

Learn more about the film and Susan’s perspective on making it after the jump.

Q: How did your film come to be? 

A: Breath of Life developed by posing the question: Why in the face of huge environmental problems on the horizon are we unable to act even in the face of cognitive experience of those problems ie: climate change, ocean acidification, cascading collapse of complex systems etc. What is it in our evolutionary past that keeps us from taking the kind of action we would need, what keeps us in denial, why do we practice cognitive dissonance?

Q: What was the most challenging thing about making this film?

A: Filming began in March of 2012 with principle photography finishing September 2013. Post production was completed April 1 2014. Many of the leading scientists in their respective fields, from Scandinavia, Europe, Canada and the U.S. were interviewed to help paint a picture of who we really are.

Q: What type of experience do you hope the film will bring to viewers?

A: The most challenging part was trying to figure out how to create a film people would enjoy watching even though it is a very depressing subject.

Q: What do you think our Maui audiences will appreciate about your film?

A: I hope people will come away with a better understanding of who they are from an evolutionary biological and psychological standpoint. Only then can we start to have the kinds of discussions we need about reality, face the enormity of what lies ahead and be better prepared.

Q: What do you think our Maui audiences will appreciate about your film?

A: Maui audiences will appreciate the story of Maui’s own Wayne Vene Chun and the fundamental changes which took him out of one cultural meme and into another, one which has a more honest relationship with the world and our finite existence in it. Hawaiian thinking shows us all a window of flexibility that exists within each of us. Also, the cinematography of Maui landscapes and ocean environment is breathtaking – (how could they not be … it’s Maui!)

Q: What is your connection to Maui?

A: I have lived in Maui for 6 years. In 1974 I was taken out of an all-girls private school in Vancouver, Canada and placed in a Hawaiian school in Oahu in 1974 where I was the minority. My experience at the time was long-lasting in my life and I always carried Aloha with me until finally coming back to this isolated archipelago and never wanting to leave.


The Featured Filmmaker series is coordinated and written by the Maui Film Festival’s Filmmaker Liaison and Social Media Director Sara TekulaClick here to see all of the Featured FIlmmaker posts and be sure follow us on Facebook and Twitter to get live updates from the festival.