A brave young transgender woman sets off on a journey to become her true self in the conservative Pacific Island Kingdom of Tonga – with a little inspiration from Tina Turner along the way.
Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson - Director/Producers
Following extensive careers in scientific research and human rights advocacy, respectively, Hamer and Wilson picked up cameras with hopes of reaching broader audiences with stories that would inform and compel people to act. They formed Qwaves to produce documentaries that emanate from the voices of those on the outside, that inspire creativity, that incite us to abandon our comfortable role as spectators and compel us to question and to act. Their films have been supported by the Sundance Institute, Ford Foundation, ITVS and Pacific Islanders in Communications, won awards at film festivals around the world and used as outreach and educational tools by a wide range of community and educational organizations.
In 2004, they returned to Wilson's small hometown of Oil City, Pennsylvania, to direct and produce the Emmy Award-winning PBS documentary Out in the Silence. Through more than 1,000 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 now live on the north shore of O'ahu, where they are working on a series of films about Pacific Islander voices and culture. Their feature documentary Kumu Hina, supported by Pacific Islanders in Communications and ITVS, premiered as the sold-out closing night film at the Hawai'i International Film Festival, won the Audience Award for its national PBS broadcast on Independent Lens, and received the GLAAD Media Award for outstanding documentary. The accompanying youth-centered educational film, A Place in the Middle, had its international premiere at the Berlinale and has won awards at numerous children's festivals. The film and accompanying educational toolkit are at the center of a strength-based international educational campaign for gender diversity and inclusion.