Matangi Tonga News - Thursday, April 26, 2018:
A film documentary, 'Leitis in Waiting', has won the audience award, after premiering at the Festival of Commonwealth Film 2018 in London earlier this month. The film is about Joey Joeleen Mataele and the Tonga leitis, a transgender minority group fighting for equality in Tonga.
The film won votes from the audience attending the film festival, which was announced on vimeo last week by the prominent British human rights champion Peter Tatchell.
Currently in London, Ms Mataele is delighted with the award and told Matangi Tonga today that she is thankful the film is being recognized.
“I’m overwhelmed and I thank God for all his blessings and for all the love and for all the support and to be recognised from the Commonwealth is a milestone for the work of the Tonga Leitis Association.”
“I would like to thank the Directors Joe Wilson and Dean Hammer and Hinalei Wong-Kalu for all they have done to make this dream come true,” she said.
The LeitisinWaiting twitter page also posted a message in response to receiving the award.
While attending the film's premier, Ms Mataele received the Commonwealth Points of Light Award, an honour given by the British Government and endorsed by the Queen of England,
The film has also picked up other accolades including the Special Jury Prize at the Festival International Du Film Docmentaire Oceanien (FIFO), Tahiti, in February this year.
It was also one of six awardees that won the 2017 Frameline Completion Fund Award with a prize of US$25,000 each earlier this year, out of 124 submissions.
Leitis in Waiting was produced and directed by Dean Hammer and Joe Wilson, with producer and story creator, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, a native Hawaiian teacher, story teller and community leader. It was produced in collaboration with the Tonga Leitis Association, and the Pacific Sexual and Gender Diversity Network to promote human rights and challenge laws ciminalizing LGBT lives, still current in eight Pacific countries.
The documentary is screening around the world including:
Melbourne, Australia, on 16 May at the Human Rights and Arts Film Festival;
Wellington, New Zealand, from 9 May at the Documentary Edge International Film Festival;
Auckland, New Zealand, 26 May at Q Theatre.