Kumu Hina

Kumu Hina Gives Hope for the Future -- City Newspaper, Rochester, NY

by Dayna Papaleo - City Newspaper, Rochester, NY - 10/8/14:

The perpetual news cycle means that every other day there seems to be a new sound bite in which some clueless lawmaker in an expensive suit weighs in on with whom Americans should be allowed to share their hearts and/or genitals. But movie theaters have long been refuges from all that outside noise, and at ImageOut: The Rochester Film & Video Festival, love inspires art, rather than uninformed opinion.

From Friday, October 10, to Sunday, October 19, ImageOut celebrates its 22nd year with 39 programs of features, documentaries, and short films about the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender experience.

As we learned in ImageOut 2010’s screening of “Two Spirits,” many indigenous cultures not only accept but embrace the idea of a third sex, one that falls somewhere in between the usual two.

Through the stirring, powerful documentary "Kumu Hina," we come to know one such mahu, a transgender Hawaiian woman named Hina Wong-Kalu devoted to helping her fellow islanders preserve their shared history by teaching traditional music and dance.

Directors Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson also chronicle Wong-Kalu’s spare time as the newlywed acclimates to everyday life with a young Tongan husband whose apparent liberality is at odds with a few misogynistic old-world notions.

Watch for the scene stealing Ho’onani, a pint-sized tomboy mirror of her teacher whose preternatural wisdom gives hope for the future.

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