The Audience Award is presented by Hawaii News Now, the news department of three television stations in Honolulu. Hawaii News Now's General Manager Rick Blangiardi, who is featured in the film, said of the award, "I'm very proud to have been part of this film. While Rise of the Wahine won the 2014 HIFF Audience Award, I have no doubt, when more people see it, it will deserve the People's Choice Award for Hawaii."
Director Dean Kaneshiro responds to the news, "We are thrilled to be recognized with this award and have been so excited to see the film's impact on our audience - educating, inspiring, and moving people the way it has. As a storyteller, there's really no better feeling than to know that movie-goers are emotionally and intellectually responding to your film."
Based on mostly untold stories, Rise of the Wahine is a feature-length historical sports documentary set during the 1970's flashpoint for women's opportunities in education and sports. Not since the 1920's had such sweeping change for women galvanized. Though women held the right to vote, they were sorely limited in education and sports opportunities. From the tiny islands of the new state of Hawaii emerged a band of minority pioneers who would battle racial and gender barriers and quickly change the landscape of women's collegiate athletics. Nationally, this included the fight for Title IX. In Hawaii, it was the struggle to birth the first collegiate women's sports programs at the University of Hawaii, and Rise focuses on the scrappy beginnings of the current day infamous UH women's volleyball team.
Rise of the Wahine premiered at HIFF November 3, 2014, is currently completing a statewide tour with the festival, with screenings on Kauai and in Kona and Hilo this week. According to Producer Tiffany Taylor, the film is currently raising funds to complete its final cut by the end of the year.