Pandora’s Hope is a short documentary film that follows Kit Farrell, a young journalist and filmmaker, as she explores a side of Kauai, Hawaii rarely seen by the millions of visitors who come seeking paradise on earth. Through a series of interviews with local scientists, activists, philanthropists, Hawaiian culture experts, and more, Kit illustrates that in addition to the idyllic landscape, Kauai is home to high tech missile defense, agrochemical biotech, acres of GMO crops, and controversial genetic research. 

Kit meets with members of GMO-Free Kauai and Hawaii SEED, who make the case for transitioning away from genetic engineering in local agriculture. She also meets with Kauai Open Source Science Alliance (KOSSA), a group of local philanthropists who seek to fund cutting-edge genetic research with a transparency that would undermine Monsanto, SAIC, and other corporations making billions from proprietary information. They posit that a less profit-driven mode of research and development will ultimately benefit humanity.

For local accident victim Warren Dastrup, groups like KOSSA may hold the key to reversing his devastating spinal cord injury. But when Kit meets a local fisherman who has agreed to undergo highly experimental cross-species genetic therapy, it becomes clear that questions of ethical responsibility remain regardless of whether research is universally accessible or under lock and key. 

Kit’s journey ultimately sparks questions about how we balance the need for progress with our basic human rights, not to mention naturally arising concerns about what evils might be unleashed in the process.