Leitis in Waiting is the story of Joey Mataele and the Tonga leitis, an intrepid group of native transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism and intolerance in their
South Pacific Kingdom.
The film follows Joey, a devout Catholic of noble descent, as she organizes an exuberant beauty pageant presided over by a princess, provides shelter and training for a young contestant rejected by her family, and spars with American-financed evangelicals threatening to resurrect colonial-era laws that criminalize the leitis’ lives. With unexpected humor and extraordinary access to the Kingdom’s royals and religious leaders, Joeyʻs emotional journey reveals what it means to be different in a society ruled by tradition, and what it takes to be accepted without forsaking culture and tradition.
Leitis in Waiting is an inside story, created by a Polynesian transgender woman who once competed, and won the crown in, Joey’s beauty pageant.
Leitis in Waiting is a true gift to the world – mesmerizing and unflinching . ~Jeannette Hereniko, President, Network for the Promotion of Asian Pacific Cinema
Leitis in Waiting a feature documentary by Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson & Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu
Radio NZ: Leitis film highlights the transgender struggle for Pacific
Saturday Morning Interview: Lord Fusitu’a – On the ‘Leitis in Waiting’ of Tonga