Maui Arts & Entertainment

Hawaiʻi film ‘Chaperone’ takes home prestigious Park City breakout award

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“Chaperone” cast at Slamdance. PC: courtesy.

Hawai‘i-made narrative feature film “Chaperone” premiered in Park City Utah as part of the 30th Annual Slamdance Film Festival last week and took home the festival’s prestigious Grand Jury Award for Breakouts.

Shot in Hilo in early 2023, the film features a predominantly AANHPI cast, with a Hawai‘i-based crew at the helm. The film was selected as one of only six to be featured in the Slamdance Breakouts program, out of nearly 9000 submissions.

For those unfamiliar with Slamdance, it acts as an alternative “indie” version of Sundance, taking place during the same time/location. For 30 years, Slamdance has created a track record for showcasing breakthrough artists.


According to the festival, the Breakouts section features films by non-first-time-feature directors who demonstrate a determined vision of filmmaking that is instinctively becoming their own.

These artists continue to push boundaries in genre and form, and are beacons of light that predict the future of film.

“Chaperone” at Slamdance. PC: courtesy.

“Chaperone,” written and directed by Hawai‘i-island filmmaker Zoë Eisenberg, follows an emotionally isolated 29-year-old woman who finds a dangerous acceptance in the bright 18-year-old athlete who mistakes her for a fellow student. The film stars Mitzi Akaha (Archive 81), Laird Akeo (Paradise City), Kanoa Goo (I Was a Simple Man), Krista Alvarez (Inhumans), Jessica Jade Andres (Don’t Worry He Won’t Get Far on Foot) and Ioane Goodhue (Next Goal Wins).


The project, which qualifies for the state’s established tax credit for locally-made productions, was produced by Alison Week and Devin Parnell Murphy. Executive Producers include Adam Wong, Lauran Bromley, Gill Holland, Sight & Sound Productions, Gerard Elmore, David Singh and Rebecca Soon. Nella Media Group, Hawaiʻi Women in Filmmakers, Hawai‘i’s Creative Industries division and 9Isle Films were also in support of the project, which was developed in two different Creative Lab Hawai‘i incubator labs between 2019 and 2020. The film was edited by Kali Kasashima (Every Day in Kaimukī).

“Our team is pretty blown away by not only the festival inclusion, but the award win, which means so much to us,” says Eisenberg. “Our goal was not only to tell this story the best we could, but with as many Hawai‘i-creatives in front of and behind the camera as possible.”

Eisenberg is the co-founder and former Executive Director of the Made in Hawai‘i Film Festival, which ran from 2018 through 2022. Eisenberg’s previous work has been supported by Tribeca Studios and Netflix, and has played on PBS, Hawaiian Airlines, and theatrically across Hawai‘i.


Her debut novel, SIGNIFICANT OTHERS, will be published in February 2024 by HarperCollins/Mira. She is one of only five female filmmakers to have directed a feature length narrative film in Hawaiʻi in the past 30 years.

Follow along with the film on social media @ChaperoneFilmHawaii.


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