ISLAND COWGIRLS weaves parallel portraits of two wāhine paniolo (Hawaiian cowgirls), DeeDee Bertlemann and Lani Cran Petrie living on opposite sides of the Hawaiʻi island, who both face uncertain futures as ranchers working on state managed lands with expiring leases. With the coronavirus pandemic, erupting volcanoes, and encroaching real estate developers impacting their lives, they seek to preserve their paniolo way of life while creating an environmentally and economically sustainable future for their children.

Paniolo, or Hawaiian Cowboys, have long been environmental stewards of the islands, roping and wrangling in Hawaiʻi 50 years before there were cowboys in Texas. Today, ranchers in Hawaiʻi continue to preserve and manage approximately 25% of the state’s total landmass. Today, with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on Hawaiʻi, the importance of a sustainable environment and economy is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. In the end, we hope our film honors this rich paniolo culture, and sparks curiosity with the viewer about what the future of sustainable agriculture means for Hawaiʻi. If you are interested in requesting a future screening for your organization please fill out the form below. We will be in touch when the film is complete.


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