*To license this film for streaming, please visit Kanopy*
Kumu Hina is a
powerful film about the struggle to maintain Pacific Islander culture and
values within the westernized society of modern day Hawai’i. It is told through
the lens of an extraordinary Native Hawaiian woman who is both a proud and
mahu, or transgender
person, and an honored and respected
or teacher, cultural practitioner, and community leader.
Hinaleimoana Wong Kalu is the charismatic hula teacher of a public charter
school dedicated to native Hawaiian culture. As she prepares her male high
school students for a year-end dance and song performance, they’re lazy and
uninspired—except for Ho’onani, a sixth-grade tomboy with an abundance of
kû, or male energy, who insists on
joining the boys. Like her teacher Kalu, Ho’onani is “in the middle,” and her
potential special status as a
endows her with healing, teaching, and leadership powers that have been
suppressed by 200 years of colonization and violence. Kalu's dedication as a cultural leader is sorely
tested by her relationship with her younger husband, who loves to drink kava
root, expresses his love through jealousy, and needs Hina’s advice simply when
he misses his bus for work. At a time when gender-nonconforming people are
marginalized and mistreated the world over, Kalu has devoted her life to
helping everybody around her be best they can be through native Hawaiian
values. But while those values preach unconditional love, honor, and respect
for all—the true meaning of aloha, embodied in graceful dance and song—Kalu is
challenged in all facets of her life.
Emmy Award–winning filmmakers Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson (Out in the Silence) paint an inspiring portrait of a beautifully
strong and wise teacher who is shaping young hearts and minds to ensure that
there is a place “in the middle” for all.
This film comes with a discussion guide that can be accessed online. Click here to download the discussion guide. To inquire about digital rights or streaming rights for this film, please contact Frameline Distribution directly.