"Leitis in Waiting Wins Audience Hearts" - Samoa Planet

25 April, 2018. – The film ‘Leitis in Waiting’ has won the ultimate accolade at the first ever Festival of Commonwealth Film held in London – announced as the winner of the ‘Audience Award’.

The Festival aims to focus on human rights across the Commonwealth, and the inaugural festival featured seven films and a shorts programme.

Leitis in Waiting was one of two European premiers played during the two day festival, alongside films showcasing stories from the Bahamas, India, Malta, Papua New Guinea, Pakistan, Tonga, United Kingdom and Zambia.

Festival co-founder and programme manager for Commonwealth writers Janet Steel said of the event, “There are so many amazing storytellers and filmmakers around the Commonwealth, taking risks and sharing issues that impact on people’s lives. FCF will bring together many of these voices, sparking a dialogue on human rights issues and highlighting the change-making power of cinema.”

Leitis in Waiting was created by Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Directed by Dean Hammer and Joe Wilson. The Documentary feature follows the story of Joey ‘Joleen’ Mataele and a group of Leitis’ who fight a rising-tide of religious fundamentalism in Tonga. The film also showcases the emotional journey they face, despite the social challenges.

The film was also announced as one of six winners of the Frameline Completion Fund Award which is worth a total of US$25,000 earlier this year.

Tongan transgender champion, co-founder of the Leitis and star of the film, Joey Joleen Mataele, was also just named Tonga’s UK Point of Light, in recognition of her advocacy efforts for LGBT rights in the Pacific.

Watch the award presentation here.

1Dean Hamer