Bikinians Star in New Marshallese Feature Film, Lañinbwil’s Gift
From the creators of the films Ña Noniep and Yokwe Bartowe comes a film that explores the tradition of kindness of the Marshallese culture and people. There are more than a dozen Bikinian people involved in this film including the female lead, Lulani Ritok, who also sings in 4 of the songs in the film, and the writer, co-director and co-producer of the film, Bikini Trust Liaison Jack Niedenthal. Bikini Mayor Alson Kelen also has a role in the film.
Lañinbwil’s Gift is the story of Jacob, an old island man with a complicated secret. When Jacob was a teenager, a noniep, a Marshallese fairy known for helping troubled souls, transformed him from a homeless simpleton into a normal young man. This favor, however, came with a huge cost: The noniep made Jacob promise that one day in the future he must bestow this newfound intelligence upon another deserving person with Jacob’s only instructions being that he would know ‘who’ when the time came. After a lifetime of pondering this otherworldly commitment to the noniep, Jacob finally discovers Lañinbwil, a homeless young man who has been abandoned by his family and who lives in a large tattered cardboard box beside a government office building… Just when Jacob begins to get close to the troubled youth, Lañinbwil unwittingly gets caught up in a war of mystical power between an evil Mejenkwar, a demon that possesses young pregnant women, and her archenemy, the gifted, shamanic old woman, Lijimu.
The Mejenkwar is enraged because Lijimu has been enormously successful in driving the demon away from her human victims. The vengeful Mejenkwar, fed up with failure, launches a two-pronged attack: First, the powerful demon transforms Lañinbwil into the legendary trickster, Letao, whose sole purpose is to drive Lijimu’s beloved and beautiful teenage grand daughter Miko insane and thus make her grandmother miserable. Secondly, the Mejenkwar possesses Kaila, who is the pregnant girlfriend of Bartowe, one of Lijimu’s most trusted friends. Once possessed by the demon, the lovely Kaila slips into an eerie coma that even doctors can’t comprehend.
Though the island town becomes the stage for a classic struggle between the forces of light and darkness, as the characters’ personalities battle unaccountable life-altering influences, hope awaits all in Lañinbwil’s box in the form of a simple broken telephone…
The film stars Iohaan Anjolok, Lulani Ritok, Netha Gideon, Lyel Tarkwon, Wyre Kimej, Martha Horiuchi, Randon Jack and Maxter Tarkwon. The film was shot on location in Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands, and at Hershey Park, Pennsylvania in the United States. Lañinbwil’s Gift contains several new musical compositions along with some old time favorites performed by Nelu deBrum, Lulani Ritok, Mattu Lejjena, Joseph deBrum, Randon Jack, Lami Maddison, and the Marshallese bands Ri-Karere Ran and Awa Zero.
All proceeds from Lañinbwil’s Gift will go to the Majuro Cooperative School.
The film opens on May 21, 2011 at the Marshall Islands Resort.
Radio Australia Interview with co-director, writer and co-producer, and Bikini Liaison, Jack Niedenthal