KS Network Engagement Solutions Engineer Kalani Bright and her non-profit Mana Studio designed the award-winning website that allows Netflix subscribers to watch, translate and dub Netflix movies into Hawaiian. Live ‘Ōlelo Jam sessions enable ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi speakers of all levels to kōkua with translating captions.
This mo‘olelo is part of Kūkahekahe – Cultural Conversations – featuring personal experiences and insights from faculty, staff and friends about compelling cultural happenings within the KS organization, throughout the Hawaiian Islands, and across the larger Pacific and global communities.
What if you could watch your favorite Netflix movie or show in ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi? ‘Ōleloflix allows Netflix subscribers to watch, translate or dub any Netflix offering into Hawaiian.
‘Ōleloflix creator Kalani Bright – a Network Engagement solutions engineer in KS’ Kealaiwikuamo‘o Division – compares the process of translating captions to a practice used in the early days of Hawaiian language immersion preschool Pūnana Leo. When ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi books for keiki didn’t yet exist, the school’s kumu and mākua would meticulously ‘oki a tuko – cut and paste – ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi text into English language children’s books. The ‘Ōleloflix platform works similarly, digitally “pasting” ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi captions over English ones via a Google Chrome extension.
‘Ōleloflix is one of several projects from Bright’s nonprofit Mana Studios, an organization committed to empowering lāhui to reclaim and renormalize ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi and other indigenous languages in digital spaces. Bright is passionate about education and technology and ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi is her ultimate medium to renormalize Hawaiian ways of communicating and learning. Her other projects include platforms for ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi interactive books and video games.
In 2019, Bright and her ‘Ōleloflix team won second place for the Purple Prize, an indigenous innovation competition. Then ‘Ōleloflix gained more momentum during Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi in February 2020, when the team held its first ‘Ōlelo Jam, a live event for ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi speakers in the community to kōkua with translating captions.
The inaugural effort was for the feature-length family film “Hop” that blends animation with live action to tell the story of the Easter Bunny’s son, a teenage rabbit who dreams of becoming a drummer. The ‘Ōlelo Jam drew about 40 ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi speakers of all ages to the cause.
‘Ōlelo Jams provide a safe environment for ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi speakers and learners of all levels to practice their ‘ōlelo. Fluency is not required to participate in Jams; in fact, 2021 Jams take place on Zoom and use breakout rooms to group less fluent speakers with more fluent speakers.
“Many captioners have just a very basic level of ʻōlelo often found from Duolingo,” Bright said. “Many aren’t confident speakers. We try to create a safe space for both fluent speakers and novice speakers. The people that have been coming back the most realize its both a way to help out the community and gain fluency in ʻōlelo at the same time. Support is there; and it’s a learning experience. It’s so easy to change captions – it happens in seconds – that there is less fear about making a mistake and relationships are built there so folks feel pilina in the process.”
During the jams, group members can discuss the best way to translate a line of text. Less experienced folks can ask questions about vocabulary, sentence structures, and more. And for anyone who feels shy about their ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi skills – mai hilahila (don’t be shame)! Once typed in, translations for captions are anonymous and can be corrected by more experienced ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi speakers. Corrections themselves can also be a learning opportunity.
In addition to “Hop,” there are several other Netflix offerings available with ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi captions: “Finding ‘Ohana,” “Back to the Future” and several episodes of the two animated series “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and “One Punch Man.”
The ‘Ōleloflix website also offers links to video-based ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi resources like Kapaemahu, Makaʻiwa Keiki, and Mānaleo production materials.
Mana Studios extends a warm mahalo to Kanaeokana – a network of ʻōlelo Hawai'i, Hawaiian culture, and ʻāina-based organizations – for supporting Ōlelo Jam sesstions during this year’s Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawai‘i (Hawaiian language Month).
Over the course of four ‘Ōlelo Jams sessions in 2021, community members translated captions into ‘ōlelo Hawaiʻi for the Netflix original movie “Finding ‘Ohana.” This year’s ‘Ōlelo Jams during Mahina ‘Ōlelo Hawaiʻi 2021 was supported by Kanaeokana, a network of ʻōlelo Hawai'i, Hawaiian culture and ʻāina-based schools – including KS –collaborating to strengthen Hawaiian education.
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