Leitis in Waiting
Directed by DEAN HAMER, JOE WILSON
Tonga, the tiny island kingdom of Polynesia, is home to the “leitis” – an intrepid group of native transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their South Pacific home. Over the course of an eventful year, we follow the gracious but quietly determined Joey Mataele, a devout Catholic of noble descent, as she organizes an exuberant beauty pageant, mentors a young contestant rejected by her family, garners the support of a Royal Princess, and spars with American-financed evangelicals threatening to resurrect colonial-era laws that would criminalize the leitis’ lives. With unexpected humor and extraordinary access to the Kingdom’s royals and religious leaders, this deftly observed documentary reveals what it means to be different in a society ruled by tradition and what it takes to be accepted without forsaking who you are.
This screening is co-presented by Invisible 2 Invincible: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago.