Kumu Hina: Documentary film

I had the honor of viewing Kumu Hina via Gathr Theatrical-on-Demand screening at the Brenden Theatres and IMAX at the Palms spear-headed by Vaughn Kalawa. I jumped at the opportunity to attend the film screening as soon as it was available for reservations in Las Vegas simply because it was Hawaii; Hawaiian related, not knowing anything about it. That was little over a month before the actual screening date which allowed me the time to watch the trailer clip(s) and research the film and featured cast.

I learned a little about Hinaleimoana the person, what she was about, in general. As the film goes, Kumu Hina is about a māhū and her journey in life up to present time. Still, I didn’t know what to expect as far as the actual film. In my opinion, the trailer couldn’t present what the actual film offered.

This is one of those “MUST SEE” movies. Kumu Hina was a captivating documentary film. It gave me added perspective on what a mahu person must endure and where they fit in society as a whole. All real, the story’s dialogue made me feel like I knew the people in the film. I was intrigued by Hina’s personality, her character and what she believes and stands for.

I understand that some may raise an eyebrow or be hesitant about the film because of the subject, but really… c’mon?!?! Open your mind, give it a chance. You won’t be disappointed. You’ll actually learn a thing or two about Hawaiian culture & history, and most of all, you’ll learn something about yourself.

I definitely recommend this film/movie. Would I watch it again? Already have… Independent Lens; PBS.


Kumu Hina is a powerful feature documentary about the struggle to maintain Pacific Islander culture and values within the Westernized society of modern day Hawaiʻi. It is told through the lens of an extraordinary Native Hawaiian who is both a proud and confident māhū, or transgender woman, and an honored and respected kumu, or teacher, cultural practitioner, and community leader.  

Imagine a world where a little boy can grow up to be the woman of his dreams, and a young girl can rise to become a leader among men. Welcome to Kumu Hina’s Hawai’i.

During a momentous year in her life in modern Honolulu, Hina Wong-Kalu, a Native Hawaiian māhū, or transgender, teacher uses traditional culture to inspire a student to claim her place as leader of the school’s all-male hula troupe. But despite her success as a teacher, Hina longs for love and a committed relationship. Will her marriage to a headstrong Tongan man fulfill her dreams? As Hina’s arduous journey unfolds, her Hawaiian roots and values give her the strength and wisdom to persevere, offering a new perspective on the true meaning of aloha.

Directed by:
Dean Hamer
Joe Wilson

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu
Ho’onani Kamai
Haemaccelo Kalu
Leo Anderson Akana (voice)


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Kumu Hina; A Place In The Middle
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