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Standing Above the Clouds

  • Jalena Keane-Lee, Director/Producer
  • Amber Espinosa-Jones, Producer
  • Erin Lau, Producer

three women in authentic garb - light blue, light purple, and tan dress with sashes. They sit in front of an altar made of rock and other natural material

About the Project

Three Native Hawaiian families dedicate their lives to defending their sacred mountain Mauna Kea from the building of the world’s largest telescope. Through the lens of mothers and daughters, Standing Above the Clouds explores sisterhood and the social and emotional labor of retaining ancient ceremonies in a rapidly modernizing world.

Jalena Keane-Lee, Director, Cinematographer, Producer

Jalena Keane-Lee is a filmmaker who explores intergenerational trauma and healing through an intersectional lens. Jalena’s work subverts traditional narratives about the femme, Asian American Pacific Islander experience. She’s currently directing her first feature length film, Standing Above the Clouds which follows Native Hawaiian mother daughter activists. Her short film by the same name screened at over 30 film festivals, won best short documentary at LA Asian Pacific Film Festival and Special Jury Mention from the Center for Asian American Media, streamed on the Criterion Collection, and broadcast on POV. Jalena co-founded Breaktide Productions, an all women of color production company that has won two Cannes Lion awards for branded content. She’s produced commercial series for Nike and Facebook, and won Tribeca Through Her Lens 2020. She has been supported by AAJA, NeXt Doc, Jacob Burns Film Center, Pacific Islanders in Communication, The Wyncote Fellowship, Nia Tero, CNN Films, and Points North Institute.

Amber Espinosa-Jones, Producer

Amber Espinosa-Jones is a creative producer and racial equity facilitator from Oakland, CA. She is a 2021-2022 Documentary New Leader and currently producing the feature film Standing Above the Clouds following Native-Hawaiian mother daughter activists executive produced by Multitude Films. Amber helped found the Outreach & Inclusion Department at Sundance Institute where she currently serves as Manager, overseeing strategy and granting programs for emerging artists of color. With a diverse arts background in theatre and film, Amber is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Dramatic Arts and Media Arts + Practice programs with an interest in art for social change and collaborative community building.

Erin Lau, Producer

Erin Lau (Producer) Just as her family served Hawaiʻi through their talents, Native Hawaiian filmmaker Erin Lau wanted to elevate her community through film. Erin was selected as a Sundance Native Lab fellow for her Chapman University MFA thesis, The Moon and the Night. The award-winning film went on to screen in over 30 festivals, including being short-listed for the 2018 Student BAFTA awards and licensed by the Criterion Channel. Since graduation, Erin has signed with the United Talent Agency (UTA) and continued her growth through fellowships with the Sundance Indigenous Institute, Film Independent’s Project Involve, Nia Tero, Unlock Her Potential, and Powderkeg’s Break The Room. Over the past three years, she has worked as a Senior Producer-Director for Jubilee Media, where her videos accumulated over 130 million views. Through this work she was also given the opportunity to develop empathy-forward content for brands including Google, Netflix, and Always.

Diana Diroy, Editor

Diana Diroy is a documentary editor and cinematographer. She is currently a 2021-22 Sundance Art of Editing Fellow. In 2019, she edited the documentary Standing Above the Clouds, which won Best Documentary Short at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, and is currently editing the feature length version. In 2021, Diroy edited, Fire Through Dry Grass, a documentary about a group of Black and brown disabled artists living on a small island in NYC, fighting COVID and the city to protect the lives of 500 vulnerable nursing home residents. Diroy was selected for the Karen Schmeer Diversity in the Edit Room Program in 2018. Her cinematography work has screened at the Sundance Film Festival, Hot Docs and CAAMFest. Her work reflects her interests in social justice, climate change, immigration, gender and identity. Diroy is currently based in San Francisco, and continuously strives to collaborate and make magic with other creatives locally and remotely.