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Reel NM: Native Hawaiians learn indigenous traditions while imprisoned in Arizona

It was a six-year journey.

And Ciara Lacy wouldn’t change a thing.

The Hawaiian filmmaker spent six years working on the documentary “Out of State.”

The film will screen at 3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19, at the New Mexico History Museum. It is part of the Native Cinema Showcase.

“I didn’t know if I could tackle this film,” she says. “It took a lot of time and patience to complete. I’m very happy with the story that is being told.”

“Out of State” tells the story of two Native Hawaiians imprisoned in Arizona who discover their indigenous traditions from a fellow inmate serving a life sentence.

It’s from this unlikely setting that David and Hale finish their terms and return to Hawaii, hoping for a fresh start.

Eager to prove to themselves and to their families that this experience has changed them forever, David and Hale struggle with the hurdles of life as formerly incarcerated men, asking, can you really go home again?

“I don’t say this film is my idea,” Lacy says. “It was an idea given to me. I have moved back home to Hawaii. I wasn’t in a good place, and I had to keep motivated. Then I heard about these men in the Arizona prison. They weren’t letting anything stop them. It was amazing.”

Lacy did research on the men doing hula dancing in prison.

“They were doing something positive and trying to move forward in our culture,” she says. “I just connected with their efforts to come back from difficult circumstances. If these guys could do it, then so could I. A lot of the men you seen the film are the type of men that are represented in our community.”

The production cost rose for Lacy and crew while filming.

“Traveling from Hawaii to Arizona isn’t cheap,” she says with a laugh. “We had to properly plan exactly what we were going to film.”

Lacy also put a lot of emphasis on telling an authentic story.

“I wanted to make sure that we felt true and honest to our subjects,” she says. “We had to make sure it made sense to other people outside of our community. The story is powerful, no matter where you’re from. These men are being generous with their time and vulnerable by telling their story. It’s a big deal.”

SEND ME YOUR TIPS: If you know of a movie filming in the state, or are curious about one, email Follow me on Twitter @agomezART.