HONOLULU (KITV) - Kailua native Brayden Yoder's new short film Last Taxi Dance tells the story of two characters displaced by war – a native Hawaiian woman and a returned U.S. soldier – at a critical transition point in Hawai`i history when the influx of service members and the federal government during World War II changed the islands forever. 

Yoder, who wrote and directed the film, wrapped shooting in February and plans to debut Last Taxi Dance at the Hawai`i Theatre on August 23. But he needs help finishing the piece. On June 7, he'll host a set of crowdfunding/trailer launch parties — at 5 and 8 p.m. — in the Weyand Room of the Hawai?i Theatre. Guests will be treated to exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, drinks, heavy pupus, and live music by Johnny Helm and Po-Maika'i Keawe Lyman. Tickets ($20) will be available at the door.

With the non-profit Film Independent as fiscal sponsor, all additional donations to help complete Last Taxi Dance are tax-deductible. The fundraising drive ends July 7.

A host of talented local artists convened to make the film, which will be distributed by Pacific Islanders in Communications: Local theater veterans Danielle Zalopany (also a lead in Chis Kahunahana's upcoming full-length feature Waikiki) and Max Holtz fill the starring roles, while musicians Alan Akaka, Stephen Inglis, Jeff Peterson, and Star Kalahiki contributed to the score. Yoder, as well as producer Bob Bates, are alumni of the Creative Lab Hawaii, and producer Ciara Lacy won the Hawaii International Film Festival's (HIFF) top award last year with her documentary Out of State, about Hawaiian convicts returning to the islands after incarceration in an Arizona prison.

With Last Taxi Dance, Yoder has been able to indulge his love of history (his major at Santa Clara University), while exploring the inherent complexities of military service. 

" [Notes: Last Taxi Dance]  reckons with timely themes of dialog and reconciliation, while helping viewers understand more about the outcomes of war and the occupation of an indigenous people," says Yoder, who served as a U.S. Army Quartermaster in Iraq.

The Hawai`i Theatre screening in August will also include live music, as well as a Q&A with Yoder, the actors, and Lacy about the making of the film.

"As the public comes to follow the 'making-of' story, we hope the conversation around the film will invite reflection on vital issues of tolerance and history within the islands – and pride in Hawaiian identity," he says.

Yoder's last short film — 2013's Breakdown, set and filmed in Pune, India — gained acceptance to the HIFF, as well as several festivals in North America and around the world, winning awards at the 2014 Taos Shortz Film Festival in New Mexico and the March 2014 HollyShorts Monthly Screening Series in Hollywood.

More recently, he directed a short documentary piece, 2017's Enduring Heroes, which memorializes 11 of greater Pasadena's fallen service members from Iraq, Afghanistan, and the war on terror. Yoder is a member of Veterans in Film & Television.
Last Taxi Dance was one of five inaugural grantees to receive seed funding from Pacific Islanders in Communications' Digital Shorts initiative, which launched in 2017 and supports short content of "untold stories and fresh perspectives on the Pacific Islander experience," according to its website.