“Leitis in Waiting”
The new feature documentary by “Kumu Hina” directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson with rroducer and writer, the mighty Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu.
Leitis in Waiting is the story of Joey Mataele and the Tonga leitis, an intrepid group of native transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific Kingdom.
The film follows Joey, a devout Catholic of noble descent, as she organises an exuberant beauty pageant presided over by a princess, provides shelter and training for a young contestant rejected by her family, and spars with American-financed evangelicals threatening to resurrect colonial-era laws that criminalise the leitis’ lives.
With unexpected humor and extraordinary access to the Kingdom’s royals and religious leaders, Joey’s emotional journey reveals what it means to be different in a society ruled by tradition, and what it takes to be accepted without forsaking culture and tradition.
Joey Mataele is a leader in the LGBTQI and human rights movements in the Pacific. She co-founded and currently chairs the Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network, is the PacificIsland Representative for the International Gay and Lesbian Association, and Chairperson ofthe South Pacific MSM Network Group. She also co-founded the Tonga Leiti’s Association in1992, and developed the Miss Galaxy Pageant as an annual event to support it. Joey is also a talented singer and entertainer who understands the importance of oral tradition and the role of song, humour and dance in Pacific cultures.
Leitis in Waiting is an inside story, created by a Polynesian transgender woman who once competed, and won the crown in, Joey’s beauty pageant- the mighty Hina Wong-Kalu- “KUMU HINA”
The Producer- Hina Wong-Kalu
Hina Wong-Kalu is a Native Hawaiian teacher, cultural practitioner and community leader with a long history of perpetuating Kanaka Maoli language, philosophy and traditions, and promoting cross-cultural work throughout the Pacific Islands.
Kumu Hina has been the subject of two feature documentaries, “KE KULANA HE MAHU” (2001) and the groundbreaking “KUMU HINA” (2014).
Her first production credit was as story creator for the short educational video A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE, for which she is also the outreach campaign spokesperson and educational advisor. She has also worked as a cultural advisor for several film and television programs about the Pacific Islands.
She also engages in many community affairs and civic activities, and is currently the Chair of the O’ahu Island Burial Council. Hina received a White House Champion of Change and Elison S. Onizuka Human Rights Memorial Award from the National Education Association for the groundbreaking impact campaigns associated with those films.
The Directors- Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson
Directors and co- Producers Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson are Emmy Award-winning Hawaii-based filmmakers and long-time activists. Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson make documentaries that emanate form the voices of those on the outside, that inspire creativity, that incite us to abandon our comfortable role as spectators and compel us to question and to act.
Their work has screened and won awards at film festivals around the world including the Berlinale, Human Rights Watch, Toronto International, AFI Docs, Los Angeles, Frameline and Outfest, and has been viewed by millions of television viewers on PBS, Independent Lens and international networks. With support from the Ford, Arcus and Wyncote Foundations, their impact campaigns have reached thousands of grassroots community groups and classrooms.
They are currently working on a series of film that highlight Pacific Islander voices and stories. Dean and Joe are Fellows of the Sundance Institute.