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Home Class Act Achievements abound for UH West Oʻahu’s Sumiye

Achievements abound for UH West Oʻahu’s Sumiye

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UH West Oʻahu's Laurie Sumiye last month in New York City at DOC NYC, the nation’s largest documentary film festival. Sumiye participated in the inaugural IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch and received an honorable mention award. Image courtesy of DOC NYC

Congratulations to Laurie Sumiye, assistant professor of Film/Transmedia with the Academy for Creative Media at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu, on her many achievements throughout this fall semester.

“I’m feeling extreme gratitude and inspiration from all of these amazing opportunities that connected me to creatives in film, writing, and art — from the wilds of Adirondacks, N.Y., and Jackson Hole, Wyo., to the largest documentary festival in bustling New York City,” Sumiiye said. “A big mahalo to my cherished UH West Oʻahu colleagues who have been supportive of my research and professional development.”

Sumiye’s accolades include the following:

2021 Blue Mountain Center Artist in Residence Award and 2021 Harriet Barlow Commons Residency Award. Sumiye was selected as a 2021 Artist in Residence at the Blue Mountain Center (BMC) out of a competitive group of over 400 applicants. She was granted an artist’s residency from Aug. 27 to Sept. 24, 2021, at the center in Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

Blue Mountain Center, a nonprofit arts organization established in 1982, is a prestigious residency program that provides artists and writers with a supportive and restorative environment in which to do their work. 

“The Blue Mountain Center admissions committee, made up of artists distinguished in their field, was extremely impressed with Laurie’s work and application,” BMC program manager Ryan Felder said in a letter announcing the award. “They felt that she offered a unique and powerful voice that deserves recognition, and that she deserved the time and space to develop that a BMC residency provides. We are very eager to support Laurie’s artistic research in film and current film project.”

Sumiye was also the recipient of BMC’s 2021 Harriet Barlow Commons Residency Award, a special honor given once a year to one resident of the Blue Mountain Center, acknowledging Sumiye’s work as an artist and cultural activist in the movement towards a just society for all.


2021 Jackson Wild Multicultural Alliance Fellow. Sumiye was selected as a 2021 Jackson Wild Multicultural Alliance Fellow and attended the Jackson Wild 2021 Summit from Sept. 25 to 30, 2021, in Jackson Hole, Wyo. The Fellowship elevates diverse and creative perspectives of storytellers for the conservation, protection, and restoration of our natural world. The program is designed to provide networking experience, curated mentorship, and professional development opportunities that will enable the participants to interact and learn from some of the world’s greatest media content creators. Jackson Wild is the premiere international festival for conservation film and media. 


2021 Symbiosis Competition at the 14th annual Imagine Science Film Festival. Sumiye was selected to participate in Symbiosis, a yearly short film competition presented by Science Sandbox as part of the 14th Annual Imagine Science Film Festival, held Oct. 15 through 22 online.

The initiative brought together six scientists and six filmmakers, including Sumiye, to pair up and create a science-inspired short film themed “Resistance” over the course of the film festival (#ISFF14). A premiere of the the six short films was held Oct. 22 in New York City. Click here to watch th
e Symbiosis films, including “The Gold of a Yellow Plant” by Sumiye and Jahnavi Phalkey.

Event flyer.
Participants of the 2021 Symbiosis Competition included UH West Oʻahu’s Laurie Sumiye, lower left corner.


IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch Finalist and Honorable Mention Winner. Sumiye’s project, “Makana o ke Mele (Gift of Song),” was among six films selected as a finalist in the inaugural IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch.

According to a press release, following a competitive open call in the summer for short documentary films that explore environmental solutions to restoring humanity’s connection with the outdoors, six finalists were selected. An esteemed jury of film industry luminaries and environmental experts then evaluated the finalists at an in-person pitch event on Nov. 16 at DOC NYC, the nation’s largest documentary film festival, in front of a public audience.

Following the pitch, Sumiye’s film was one of two honorable mentions awarded by the jury of the Nature Access Pitch, with each receiving a $5,000 grant and distribution consultation from IF/Then. Upon their completion, all three films (including the grand prize winner) will be featured as part of The Redford Center’s Nature Films Program.

Providing a deep look into the historical and ancestral connections to land, water, and nature held by Black, Indigenous, People of Color, LGBTQIA+, immigrant, and undocumented communities, the six films also highlight the difficult yet resilient ways such communities navigate the residual impacts of forced displacement, generational trauma, and inequity and injustice. By showcasing these untold histories and circumstances, each film takes viewers through a unique journey towards one destination: equitable access to nature and healing.

Event flyer.
Participants of the IF/Then x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch included UH West Oʻahu’s Laurie Sumiye, lower right corner.

Images courtesy of Symbiosis and Zenaida Serrano Arvman