“My KoAloha Story” is an engaging portrait of a Hawaii family that rescued its failing fortunes and repaired badly damaged relationships when it entered the ukelele manufacturing business in the mid-1990s. Focused on patriarch Alvin “Pops” Okami, this warts-and-all docu is an uplifting rags-to-riches story and celebration of the ukelele’s resurgence in popularity over the past 20 years. Though a tad overlong, pic makes for a nice addition to fest sidebars and could easily be edited into a pubcaster-friendly hour.
Facing bankruptcy and falling out with family members as a result of his substance abuse, Okami turned things around in 1994 by converting his plastics factory into a workshop producing hand-crafted ukeleles that are now regarded as among the best in the world. With frank testimony from Okami’s previously estranged son, Alan, and bubbly wife, Pat, helmer Gary San Angel creates a warm glow around Okami’s large clan and elicits eloquent comments about the positive social and cultural power of ukelele music from world-class exponents including Daniel Ho. YouTube-sourced clips from international ukelele aficionados such as live-wire Scotsman Jimmy McGee add a delightful touch. Tech work is simple and effective.