A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE is the true story of a young girl in Hawaiʻi who dreams of leading the boys-only hula group at her school, and a teacher who empowers her through traditional culture. This kid-friendly educational film is a great way to get students thinking and talking about the values of diversity and inclusion, the power of knowing your heritage, and how to prevent bullying by creating a school climate of aloha – from their own point of view!
Dean Hamer, Director/Editor/Producer
Dean Hamer is an Emmy Award winning filmmaker and New York Times Book of the Year author with a long history in communicating complex and controversial ideas to diverse publics. Together with Qwaves partner Joe Wilson, he has directed and produced three feature documentaries for American public television, as well as numerous short pieces that have been used as outreach and educational tools by a range of community and educational organizations.
OUT IN THE SILENCE, the first feature film from Qwaves, premiered at the Human Rights Watch International Film festival at Lincoln Center, and with support from the Sundance Documentary Film program and Fledgling Fund has been widely distributed through PBS, multiple digital portals, and over 1000 community screenings. In 2011, Hamer and Wilson moved to O'ahu, Hawai'i to begin work on a series of films about Pacific islander voices and issues. Their feature documentary Kumu Hina, supported by Pacific Islanders in Communications, ITVS and the Ford Foundation, won the Audience Award for its national PBS broadcast on Independent Lens and the GLAAD Media Award. The accompanying kid-friendly educational film, A Place in the Middle, had its international premiere at the Berlinale and has been widely distributed through PBS Learning Media. Their second feature documentary co-produced with Pacific Islanders in Communications, LEITIS IN WAITING, was completed recently and is currently on the festival circuit.
In addition to his ﬁlm work, Hamer is the author of several best-selling nonﬁction books including The Science of Desire and The God Gene, has been a consultant for the BBC and Discovery channels, and his research has been featured in Time, Newsweek, and Science magazines and on Frontline and Oprah.
Joe Wilson, Director/Director of Photography/Producer
Joe Wilson got involved in documentary filmmaking through his social activism on human rights issues. Frustrated by the limitations of traditional organizing and advocacy, he picked up a camera with hopes of reaching broader audiences with stories that would inform and compel people to act.
Together with Qwaves co-founder Dean Hamer, his films on controversial and often ignored human rights issues have won jury and audience awards and official selection at more than 100 film festivals around the country and the world, been viewed by millions on PBS and international broadcasts, and received widespread attention for their role in promoting social change.
In 2004, Wilson returned to his small hometown of Oil City, Pennsylvania, to direct and produce the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary OUT IN THE SILENCE. Through more than 1000 grassroots screenings across the country, this film has become part of a national movement to open dialogue, counter school bullying, and support fairness and equality for all in small towns and rural communities.
Hamer and Wilson moved to the north shore of O'ahu, Hawai'i in 2011 to produce Kumu Hina,the moving story of a transgender native Hawaiian cultural icon who is teaching her student and community the true meaning of aloha, and accompanying educational film A Place in the Middle. These are being used as tools for an extensive educational and outreach campaign, supported by PBS LearningMedia and the Ford Foundation, that has included distribution to every school and public library in Hawai and reached over 1 million children worldwide. Their recent short film LADY EVA and featuredocumentary LEITIS IN WAITING, about transgender life in the Kingdom of Tonga, are now appearing on the festival circuit.
Daniel Sousa, Animator
Daniel Sousa is an Academy Award-nominated animator who uses the themes embedded in myths and folktales to examine archetypes of human nature and the inner struggles between our intellects and our unconscious drives. His short films FERAL and FABLE both premiered at Sundance and won awards at film festivals around the world. In addition to his independent projects, Sousa has worked as a director and animator with Cartoon Network and Olive Jar Studios, and taught at the Rhode Island School of Design, Harvard University, The Museum School, The Art Institute of Boston and the Animation Workshop in Denmark. He recently completed animating several native legends for the upcoming four-part PBS special NATIVE AMERICA, which weaves history and science with living indigenous traditions.