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Leitis in Waiting

USA, English, 72 mins

  • Director: Dean Hamer; Joe Wilson

CGiii Comment

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 organizes 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 criminalize the leitis' lives.

With 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. Emmy Award-winning directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson (KUMU HINA) along with story creator Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, herself a Polynesian transgender woman who once won the crown in Joey's beauty pageant, bring unexpected humor and insight to the inspiring story of Pacific people who must be true to themselves no matter the cost.


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