‘Ōleloflix Brings Hawaiian Subtitles to Netflix

Mar 3, 2021

The Netflix original "Finding ‘Ohana" debuted a little more than a month ago, and is now available in ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i - with Hawaiian subtitles that is. Any Netflix movie or television show can now be captioned in the Hawaiian language, thanks to a new platform called ‘Ōleloflix.

At first, ‘Ōleloflix pioneer Kalani Bright was skeptical of the movie "Finding ‘Ohana."

"Oh my god, Finding ‘Ohana? " Bright says. "OK, what is it like? Did they misrepresent our culture like every other movie? And then you hear it took off like wildfire. People were like, have you seen Finding ‘Ohana? Have you seen and then I said, OK, this is like, this is our jam."

Jam, as in ‘Ōlelo Jam - a community event Brights hosts where ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i speakers of all ages and proficiencies gather to add Hawaiian language captions to their favorite Netflix movie or TV show.

"We're all working on a Google Doc," Bright says. "You have a timeline from the very beginning of the movie to the very end of the movie, you get a little avatar and everybody's jumping all over the place and everybody's working on it at the same time."

It's called crowdsource translation, where fluent speakers pair up with beginners to encourage and language learning. Bright, who can speak a decne amount of Hawaiian, then works with a group of fluents speakers to fine-tune the captions and make them avaiable to anyone with Netflix and a Chrome browser.

Aside from Finding ‘Ohana, there are at least 20 projects open for translation, including Back to the Future, Breaking Bad and Chasing Coral. ‘Ōleloflix is one of Bright's passion projects as the founder and CEO of Mana Studios, a nonprofit aiming to empower Hawaiians to reclaim digital space by normalizing the ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.

"Our language is our way of connecting to our ancestors and connecting to ourselves," Bright says. "That's where we need to be. When I see keiki laughing and smiling and playing ma ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i, I just realize that that's the future that we need to have."

A future Bright is helping to create. The 41-year-old Hawaiian software engineer says the possibilities are endless when it comes to using technology to advance ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i.