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Review: Kumu Hina (Documentary)

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Kumu Hina (documentary)

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"Halau Lokali is a public charter school dedicated to native Hawaiian culture, language and history...subjects long prohibited in Hawaii's Americanized education system."

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In this tear-jerking documentary titled Kumu Hina (Teacher, Hina), Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson explore two lives, whose generational gap brings touching gravity to both the loss and revival of the ethnic and civil right struggles of socially oppressed minorities. In this case, Hawaiians.

The documentary is done in such a way that it touches the core ever so swiftly as the lives of Hina, her husband, other mahus and the young Ho'onani, unwrap and become deeper intertwined with one another.

Hina Wong-Kalu is a cultural fighter whose ancestry is the merging point of her romantic life, political involvement and desire to pass on Hawaiian tradition to younger generations. Her mahu (just like the indigenous thought behind two-spirit; a third gender involving male and female energies) status comes into play when a six-grader, Ho'onani Kamai, wants to be part of the boy dances. Hina claims her duty is to restore that center of love and aloha (harmony with nature and one another).

Hina's relationship with her younger husband, Hema Kalu, from Fiji, brings another layer of socioeconomic decisions which allow the audience to be understanding of how romance, stability, companionship and citizenship matter to everyone across the board, yet they become more intricate and borderline difficult to navigate for those socially oppressed.

Hina, born Collin Wong, transitioned to female in 1993 and since has become an elementary school hula teacher and chair of the O'ahu Island Burial Council. The young kane-wahine (girl-boy), Ho'onani, is socially fearless despite the lonesomeness of living in a culture, that unlike before, does not consider mahus to be valued teachers, care-takers and healers.

Ho'onani's role as the 'tomboy' of her class and group is the perfect balance to Hina's feminine masculinity. Ho'onani's relationship with her family, especially with her mother, is touching and uncomfortable at times. This balance of a mother respecting her daughter's freedom to be 'boyish' is tense when adding "she can do what she wants, but she is a girl".

Regardless of the documentary's take on gender roles, and its characters fears and reservations, this culturally-impacting film is enjoyable and transcendent.

Watch this documentary alongside other great queer documentaries during Portland's [[QDoc Festival]] from 15th-18th, 2014. The festival is curated and planned by a pair, which includes David Weissman, director of [[We Were Here]] and [[Cockettes]].

Other reviews:

Films: Southern Baptist Sissies : OFIR (documentary) : Ne Te Retourne Pas (short) : Halina (short) : EK (short) : Despite The Gods (documentary) : Materica (short) : Lawrence and Hollowman, the movie : No Strangers (documentary) : Meth Head, the movie : Echoes (short) : Titans of Newark (short) : A Cure (short) : Precious, the movie : This Is It (documentary)

Music: The Sounds' Weekend : Austra's Olympia : KENN's We Killed KENN : VV Brown's Samson & Delilah : Sammy Crawford's Reality Sets In : Melanie C's Stages : Madonna's MDNA : Nelly Furtado's Spirit Indestructible : CocoRosie's "We Are On Fire" : Stephan Nance's A Troubled Piece of Fruit

Videos: Christina Aguilera's "Your Body" : Lily Allen's "Hard Out Here" : Tom Goss' "It's All Over" : Eric Himan's "Dust" : Scissor Sisters' "Only The Horses"

Concerts: Ellie Goulding : The Sounds with Blondfire & Strange Talk : Natasha Bedingfield : Andy Grammer : Kate Voegele

Stand Up: Kevin J Thornton

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