Director: Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson Haku Mo’olelo & Narrator: Hineleimoana Wong-Kalu Duration: 77 minutes Country: Hawai’i (2015)
A film about a Hawaiian teacher and bringing an ancient cultural perspective to the international debate of Transgender Rights
‘Kumu Hina’ is the inspiring story of Hina Wongkalu, a transgender native Hawaiian teacher and cultural icon who brings to life Hawaii’s traditional embrace of mahu — those who embody both male and female spirit. The film traces Hina’s evolution from a timid high school boy to her position as a married woman and cultural director of a school in one of Honolulu’s grittier neighborhoods.
As she contemplates who should lead the school's all-male hula troupe in their final performance, a surprising candidate presents herself: Ho’onani, a sixth grader who is proud to be seen as a mixture of boy and girl. As Kumu Hina helps Ho’onani to negotiate the mixed reactions of her classmates and her family, the power of culture to instill a sense of pride and acceptance becomes clear.
The film also delves into Hinaʻs pursuit of a dream of her own — a fulfilling romantic relationship. Her tumultuous marriage to a headstrong Tongan man offers insight into the universal challenge of loving somebody outside the norm, and a glimpse of Hawaii.