NMG Network’s First Investment in Feature Film Pays Off with Prestigious Debut at Sundance Film Festival
NMG’s flourishing film division is committed to telling impactful stories from creative new voices in the independent filmmaking community.
HONOLULU, HI — NMG Network (NMG) is the leading creator of custom media programs for luxury and leisure travel, hospitality and premium residential partners. In addition to growing its network of video channels with original and curated short-form programming, it is furthering its interests and impact in the theatrical space as both a committed investor and producer of Hawai‘i-based stories with local filmmakers and brands. NMG’s dedication to the art of film as an investor and producer is proving successful with two of its projects getting the spotlight from the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
NMG-backed feature film "Every Day in Kaimukī" is an official selection in the NEXT category of the Sundance Film Festival 2022. This is Alika Tengan’s directorial debut and will be the first feature-length film by a Native Hawaiian to premiere at the prestigious film festival. “Every Day in Kaimukī” is part of Alika’s film trajectory that is traveling at light speed, with his recent short films garnering acclaim across the festival circuits and leading to great opportunities.
Alikaʻs short film with Jonah Okano, “Mauka to Makai”, won “Best Made in Hawai’i'' at the Hawaiʻi International Film Festival and was produced under the mentorship of Joe Robert Cole (“Black Panther”) through the ʻOhina Filmmakers Lab. His next short film, “Moloka’i Bound”, which NMG supported, premiered at ImagineNative 2019 and won the award for “Best Short Work” at Hawai’i International Film Festival. The expanded feature-length script for “Moloka’i Bound” was selected for the inaugural Indigenous Black List. The feature film is now in development with a first of its kind feature film grant awarded by Google and ARRAY.
NMG proudly joins Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC), a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing and developing Pacific Island media content and talent, in funding “Every Day In Kaimukī,” and in cheering on Alika.
NMG was also selected to have its “Ka Huaka‘i: The Journey to Merrie Monarch” featured during the inaugural Brand Storytelling Theatre Showcase at Sundance 2022. Hawaiian Airlines co-produced the feature film, which will be honored alongside projects by Apple, Nike and Pepsi.
“Ka Huaka'i,” directed by Gerard Elmore, NMG’s VP, FILM, follows three hula practitioners as they prepare to step onto the stage of the prestigious hula competition. It is one of only 16 stories invited by a distinguished committee to participate in this officially sanctioned Sundance event.
“NMG’s expansion into producing feature films, episodic experiences, and more is a dynamic progression of our work to entertain and inspire,” said Jason Cutinella, founder and CEO of NMG. “It’s an exciting time for Hawai‘i film, and the focus of NMG is synergistic with the movement. Being part of a like-minded creative collective investing in diverse voices—such as our friends at PIC and Interim Executive Director, Cheryl Hirasa—aligns seamlessly with our vision. Together, we’re advancing storytelling that can provide a deeper appreciation of cultures and communities, further substantiated by the high-profile recognition of Sundance.”
In his role at NMG, Elmore has been instrumental in expanding the company’s film profile, and is uniquely positioned in the collective that’s elevating and celebrating local talent as Executive Director at ‘OHINA LABS, a cohort of Hawai’i filmmakers. Under Elmore’s stewardship, ‘OHINA has been selected as a valued partner of the Sundance Outreach & Inclusion Team.
NMG is proud to help produce select ‘OHINA projects, and to provide a platform for short films that have completed the development program, alongside other curated content, at nmgnetwork.com/ohinatv.
“The momentum of Hawai‘i filmmaking at Sundance, building on the energy from the trailblazing talents of Ciara Lacy and Christopher Yogi at last year’s festival, is electrifying,” said Gerard Elmore, NMG’s VP, FILM. “Through broadening access to mentorship, investment, and licensing opportunities—provided not only on an individual level with dedicated local supporters, but also wonderfully at the state-level with champions at Creative Industries—more Hawai‘i filmmakers will have doors opened to events of this caliber, and be able to share their stories with the world.”
“It’s an unprecedented time for underrepresented voices to be elevated to mainstream media,” said Georja Skinner, Chief Officer, Hawaii's Creative Industries DBEDT. “Hawaii's content creators have evolved to a new level of brilliant storytelling through development programs who are working together as collaborators such as PIC, Creative Lab Hawai‘i, ‘OHINA, Academy for Creative Media at University of Hawai‘i, Hawai‘i Women in Filmmaking, Hawai‘i Filmmakers Collective, Good Pitch Hawaii, State of Hawai‘i Film Office and Hawai‘i International Film Festival. Our commitment is to further creative export through building a collective ecosystem.”
NMG applauds the collective efforts of the Hawai‘i creative community and its supporters that are changing the way global audiences are accessing and experiencing Hawai‘i film and filmmakers.
About NMG Network
NMG Network is the leading creator of custom media experiences for luxury and leisure travel, hospitality, and premium residential partners. Our highly targeted omnichannel approach to storytelling provides a unique opportunity to connect with the most sophisticated and sought after consumers where they prefer to engage with content that informs, inspires and entertains. In addition to its award-winning video, print and digital channels created for clients including Shutters on the Beach, Hotel Casa del Mar, Halekulani Hotel, Park Lane Ala Moana, ‘Alohilani Resort, Ko Olina Resort, International Market Place and Marriott Resorts Hawaii, NMG operates consumer facing brands Lei, for the LGBTQ+ traveler; FLUX, representing the current of Hawai‘i; and Shore TV Hawaii, the most widely distributed network devoted to travel in Hawaii. View more at NMGnetwork.com.
About Pacific Islanders in Communications (PIC)
Pacific Islanders in Communications is the only national media organization that’s committed to supporting, advancing, and developing Pacific Island media content and talent that results in a deeper understanding of Pacific Island history, culture, and contemporary challenges. PIC addresses the need for media content that reflects America’s growing ethnic and cultural diversity by funding independently produced films, and by producing innovative ongoing television series (PACIFIC HEARTBEAT) and online series (PACIFIC PULSE) that showcase stories by and about Pacific Islanders.
About Creative Industries (CID), DBEDT
CID is a division comprised of the Hawai‘i Film Office and the Arts and Culture Branch within the Department of Business, Economic Development & Tourism (DBEDT). As the State of Hawaii’s lead agency dedicated to advocating for and accelerating the growth of Hawaii’s Creative Economy, the division launched Creative Lab Hawai‘i Accelerator in 2013 to advance business acumen and talent development pipeline for export of IP. Through initiatives, program development, and strategic partnerships, the division and its branches implement activities to expand the business development, global export and investment capacity of Hawaii’s arts, culture, music, film, literary, publishing, digital and new media industries, while managing its multi-million dollar location based film and television production industry. To learn more visit: cid.hawaii.gov, creativ
‘OHINA debuted in 1999 to support independent filmmakers and to give them an opportunity to exhibit their films to the community through a short film showcase, named with the Hawaiian term for "gathering" or "collecting." Through the years, ‘OHINA has grown into a media pipeline responsible for helping emerging filmmakers and storytellers bring cinematic visions to the big screen. Since the ‘OHINA LABS inaugural cohort in 2017, program fellows and projects have gone on to make waves on the film festival circuit and secured dynamic distribution deals. For more information on the work of ‘OHINA and opportunities to apply for LABS, please visit ohina.org.
Jason Cutinella, Founder & CEO
Merri Gruesser, VP, Global Partnerships & Development