For Immediate Release: QWAVES MEDIA
Film on Inspiring Transgender Teacher in Hawaiʻi
Brings Call for Gender Diversity to Aotearoa
Reminiscent of ʻWhale Rider,ʻ KUMU HINA, a new film about an ancient Hawaiian tradition honoring those who embrace both male and female spirit, spotlights diversity and inclusion in Wairoa Maori Film Festival screening.
Honolulu, HI - April 29, 2014: At a time when transgender and gender nonconforming people the world over face hostility, violence, discrimination, even murder, simply for being themselves, a new film from Hawaiʻi offers a fresh perspective and a bold call for a more just and inclusive world.
KUMU HINA (Teacher Hina) tells the inspiring story of Hina Wong-Kalu, a transgender native Hawaiian teacher and cultural icon who brings to life Hawaiʻiʻs traditional embrace of mahu - those who embody both male and female spirit. The film will be screened in the Wairoa Maori Film Festival, held at Kahungunu Marae, Nuhaka, Wairoa, Aotearoa, May 29 to June 2, 2014. The directors will be in attendance.
The film will also be shown in Auckland and Wellington as part of Out Takes 2014.
The events will highlight the launch of the filmʻs global campaign for gender diversity - #APlaceintheMiddle - aimed at helping audiences in Aoteaora and around the world see themselves, their families, schools and communities in powerful new ways, ensuring that no one, particularly youth, faces harassment, discrimination or violence because they don't conform to society's traditional gender norms.
Produced by Pacific Islanders in Communications, ITVS, and Emmy-winning directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson, the film traces Kumu Hinaʻs evolution from Collin Wong, a timid high school boy, to her present position as a married woman and cultural director of a school in one of Honoluluʻs grittier neighborhoods.These very special Aotearoa events will help amplify KUMU HINAʻs campaign to spread a message of cultural preservation, empowerment, and gender diversity around the world. The campaign will be focused on festival, community and educational screenings, complemented by television broadcast in 2015.
When Hoʻonani, a charismatic 6th grade girl, asks to join the schoolʻs all-male hula troupe, Hina gives her the opportunity to express her inner male spirit. As teacher and student prepare for a climactic end-of-year performance, they meet many obstacles, but hold fast to the idea that being true to oneself matters most.
"The film shows why kids like Hoʻonani, and teachers like Hina, should be cherished and admired, not harassed and disrespected," said Hamer.
"Itʻs Hawaiʻiʻs real-life version of Whale Rider," added Wilson.
The film also delves into Hinaʻs pursuit of a dream of her own; a fulfilling romantic relationship. Her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man, and the challenges they encounter, offer a glimpse of a Hawaii never before seen on film, and hopeful insights about the universal quest for love and acceptance.
"This amazing film allows audiences an intimate and refreshing view of Pacific Island life and culture through iconic Hawaiian leader, Hina Wong-Kalu," said Leanne Ferrer, director of Pacific Islanders in Communications. "I know that KUMU HINA will inspire and bring understanding and enlightenment to all who view it."
The film is being released as Hinaʻs star is on the rise. In addition to her high cultural profile as Chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council, she just announced her candidacy for the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, making her among the first openly-transgender candidates to run for a statewide political office in the United States.
"KUMU HINA is no ordinary documentary. It's an inspiring and emotional journey that unfolds like a narrative film - a love story about the true meaning of aloha."
- Robert Lambeth, Director of the Hawaii International Film Festival, which premiered KUMU HINA on April 10 at Honoluluʻs sold-out, 1,400 seat Hawaii Theatre
###Press Kit and Hi-Rez images available HERE.
PRESS CONTACT: Joe Wilson, Qwaves Media
t: +1 (808) 629-9864 e: QwavesMedia@mail.com
Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams, and a young girl can rise to become a leader among men. Welcome to Kumu Hinaʻs Hawaii, where thereʻs a place in the middle for all.
Pacific Islanders in Communications
Editor: Nels Bangerter Co-Producer: Connie M. Florez Original Score: Makana Animation: Jared GreenleafAdvisor: Leonelle Akana Featuring: Hina Wong-Kalu and Haemaccelo Kalu Introducing: Hoʻonani Kama