State foresters’ ‘Kumu Niu’ wins Jackson Wild Award, appears in numerous film festivals

The association’s tree story on the cultural significance of coconut trees, or “niu,” has garnered critical acclaim and considerable media attention over the last six months.

WASHINGTON—The National Association of State Foresters is thrilled to announce its tree story “Kumu Niu” has received a 2022 Jackson Wild Media Award. The honor was presented during the Jackson Wild Summit Grand Teton Awards Gala in Burgenland, Austria, held in late September.

Kumu Niu was chosen by a panel of international judges out  of over 350 films  from 26 different countries as the recipient of the “Human Planet: Short Form” award. This honor is bestowed upon films that “best encompass the role of humanity as an interdependent part of nature, and how our relationship with nature is critical to our spiritual, social, cultural and personal identity as well as our health and prosperity.”

“As a filmmaker, it is a literally a dream come true to be recognized by the Jackson Wild Media Awards,” said Alex Cantatore of QuickActCasual Productions, the creative firm behind Kumu Niu. “While I am elated to receive this award, the greatest joy for me has been seeing our story about Niu Now’s crucial food sovereignty work in Hawai‘i elevated in such a powerful way.”

Kumu Niu follows the community group Niu Now as they prepare to plant a new grove of coconut trees, or “niu,” on the University of Hawai‘i’s West O’ahu campus. The grove’s planting has been years in the making, and is both a practical and symbolic step toward restoring the knowledge of the tropical world’s “tree of life” and sharing the Indigenous wisdom of “aloha ‘āina:” loving land and serving people.

The film is the second installment in NASF’s “Tree Stories” series, a collection of short films that illustrates the importance of the different—but equally valuable—bonds that people enjoy with trees. Two other tree stories—”Forgotten Storm” and “Tree Hunter“—are available here on NASF’s YouTube channel, along with two trailers for Kumu Niu: “The Meaning of Kumu Niu” and “The History of the Niu.”

Since its release in April 2022, Kumu Niu has been screened as part of other film festivals as well, including San Diego ShortsFest, Awareness Film Festival, and BendFilm Festival. Next up on the film’s screening tour is the Hawai‘i International Film Festival and the Red Nation International Film Festival.

To watch Kumu Niu, click here or click play below.

Media Contact: Whitney Forman-Cook at or 202-624-5417

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