Rough around the edges and solid at its core, “The Land of Eb” is an affecting study of life among Marshallese immigrants living on the fringes of society in Hawaii. Centered on a terminally ill grandfather who wants to ensure his survivors enjoy a more fortunate life than his own, helmer Andrew Williamson’s ultra-low budget debut succeeds as heartfelt family drama while drawing attention to the painful displacement of many who lost their homes during nuclear weapons testing in the 1940s and ’50s. Solid fest item has claims for exposure via niche broadcast outlets.Diagnosed with cancer, 56-year-old Jacob Jackson (Jonithen Jackson) hides the news from his family, including wife Dorothy (Tarke Jonithen). Slowish to start, the story gathers momentum as Jacob forgoes medical treatment and starts working for Verne (Hilary Monson), a coffee plantation owner who reneges on a deal that would allow Jacob to settle debts and guarantee his family some security. Based partly on Jackson’s personal experiences and cast almost entirely with non-pros from the Marshallese community in Kona, pic packs an emotional punch that easily overcomes uncertain thesping by some supporting players. Tech package is OK.
A Kona Film Group production. (International sales: Kona Film Group, Kona, Hawaii.) Produced by Andrew Williamson, John Hill, Jonithen Jackson. Executive producers, Jeanne Jones, Guillermo F. Navarro. Co-producer, Hiroko Kobayashi. Directed by Andrew Williamson. Screenplay, Williamson, John Hill.
Camera (color, HD), Josh Harmsworth; editors, Williamson, Josh Martin; music, Daniel Nietz; production designer, So Woon-min; sound (stereo), Stephen A. Tibbo; visual effects supervisor, Matthew Steele Finley; assistant director, Zach Zoller; second unit camera, Alden Dobbins. Reviewed at Hawaii Film Festival (competing), Oct. 14, 2012. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Discovery.) Running time: 88 MIN.
Jonithen Jackson, Rojel Jonithen, Jeff Nashion, Tarke Jonithen, Kodo Miyaoka, Austin Jonithen, Hilary Monson. (English, Marshallese dialogue)