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ATA | VĀSA Reflections in an Ocean: Leitis in Waiting

Leitis in Waiting - Raising to Reclaim their Righteous Place in a South Pacific Kingdom

Director: Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson Producer: Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu Protagonist: Joey Mataele Country: Tonga (2018)

An intrepid group of native transgender women fight a rising tide of religious fundamentalism & intolerance in their South Pacific Kingdom

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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 unexpected humor and extraordinary access to the Kingdom's royals and religious leaders, Joeyʻs 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.

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.

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