Top honors go to Eddie Aikau documentary

The late, great Edward Ryon Makuahanai "Eddie" Aikau will receive the Visionary Award Tribute tomorrow night, June 12, at the Maui Film Festival just before a special screening of a new documentary about the legendary Hawaiian waterman.

Revered as a true symbol of the islands' aloha spirit, the renowned big-wave surfer was the first lifeguard on Oahu's North Shore as well as a peacemaker between violently clashing Australian and Hawaiian surfers in the mid '70s.

The 96-minute "Hawaiian: The Legend of Eddie Aikau" -- directed by Sam George, narrated by Josh Brolin, and produced by Stacy Peralta and Paul Taublieb, among others -- "uses the story of eddie as way to tell the story of modern Hawaii . . . and how surfing represents the culture in an authentic way," said Taublieb, who also served as the film's creative director.

"The family is very, very happy with it," Clyde Aikau, Eddie's younger brother, told "And the production quality from start to finish keeps you on the edge of your seat and really hits you in your heart."

Paddling to get help for his fellow crew, the 31-year-old Eddie Aikau vanished at sea on March 17, 1978, after their double-hulled voyaging canoe, the Hokule'a, capsized during a 2500-mile journey between the Hawaiian and Tahitian islands.

"Eddie has earned an interesting place in surf mythology," George told "His achievements were largely undocumented and under-appreciated. He became a legend but few people knew why. He was part of a culture so marginalized over the past 200 years, yet he really cared about other people, risked his life to save others . . . and spoke out against violence. He's surfing's greatest hero."

Also receiving the film festival's Visionary Award Tribute will be the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Nainoa Thompson, believed to be the last person to speak with Aikau before he paddled away from the capsized Hokule'a.

A West Coast screening of "Hawaiian" is tentatively scheduled for early August.

Eddie Aikau by Jeff Divine

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