Christian

PACIFIC HEARTBEAT SEASON 8
Leitis in Waiting

PACIFIC HEARTBEAT SEASON 8: Leitis in Waiting
 
PACIFIC HEARTBEAT

 

The eighth season PACIFIC HEARTBEAT provides viewers with a glimpse of the real Pacific—its people, culture and contemporary issues. From revealing exposés to in-depth profiles and unexpected histories, the anthology series features a diverse array of programs that draws viewers into the heart, mind and soul of Pacific Island culture.

 

Preview

 

Leitis in Waiting
Leitis in Waiting tells the story of Tonga’s evolving approach to gender fluidity through a character-driven portrait of the most prominent leiti (transgender) in the Kingdom, Joey Mataele, a devout Catholic of noble descent. Over the course of an eventful year, Joey organizes a beauty pageant, mentors a young leiti who is rejected by her family, and attempts to work with fundamentalist Christians regarding Tonga’s anti-sodomy and cross-dressing laws. Her story reveals what it means to be different in a deeply religious and conservative society, and what it takes to be accepted without giving up who you are.

 

 

 

PACIFIC HEARTBEAT
Leitis in Waiting | Cover Story

Pacific Heartbeat's Leitis in Waiting. The May Program Guide cover story by Emily Bodfish

May 2019 program guide cover story by Emily Bodfish, PBS Hawai‘i

 

Now in its eighth season, the anthology series PACIFIC HEARTBEAT brings the authentic Pacific – people, cultures, languages, music and contemporary issues – to your screen. This new season brings stories of determination and courage from Australia, Rapa Nui (Easter Island), Tonga and the U.S. The series is a production of Pacific Islanders in Communications in partnership with PBS Hawaiʻi, and is distributed nationally by American Public Television.

 

Among the films premiering this month is Leitis in Waiting, which tells the story of the Kingdom of Tonga’s evolving approach to gender fluidity through character-driven portraits of leitis, or indigenous transgender women. The most prominent leiti, Joey Joleen Mataele, is a practicing Catholic of noble descent who, over the course of an eventful year, organizes a beauty pageant, and later a conference with fundamentalist Christians to discuss the rise of the rhetoric of intolerance toward leitis.

 

Filmmakers Joe Wilson, Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu and Dean HamerFilmmakers Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson and Hinaleimoana Wong-Kale – the subject of Hamer and Wilson’s earlier film Kumu Hina, which was also a film about gender fluidity that aired nationally on PBS – spoke with us about the film:

 

Could you give us some insight into your intentions with the film, the meaning of it for you and your audience?

 

Hamer: At first, we thought we would create a short film about the [beauty] pageant itself, which Hina won one year, by the way. While pursuing that, we realized we needed to make a feature length film on the leitis search for equality and recognition in their own country.

 

Wilson: We wanted our film to have an effect everywhere, but especially in Tonga. Our approach to filmmaking is to show, not tell, and let the viewers decide for themselves. That approach lends itself to the Tongan talanoa method of conflict resolution. You sit down with your opposition and try to come to a mutual understanding. Joey, the protagonist of the film, is currently using the film in that way as part of her advocacy.

 

Hina, you were instrumental in making the film because of your insider knowledge of the culture. Could you give some insight into those cultural differences some viewers might not understand, including the concept of the “usefulness” of the leitis?

 

Wong-Kalu: In Tonga, the royal family is held in utmost regard. They are synonymous with the nation itself, the flag, and the national seal “God and Tonga are my inheritance.”

 

On “usefulness,” the understanding in Polynesian culture is that your worth is not measured by how much you acquire, but rather by how much you sacrifice of yourself. The Tongan understanding of the word “useful” as it applies to people is different from in the west. When you hear people in the film say that the leitis are “useful,” it is praise for their service to others.

 

Wilson: At the same time, the frustrations that we tried to capture on film is the leitis’ struggle with something that marginalized communities struggle with everywhere. Whenever leitis, or anyone that has been relegated to a certain place, says, “I deserve more,” a backlash occurs.

 

What do you think the U.S. and Tonga can learn from each other?

 

Wong-Kalu: I would like to beg the question – why does Tonga have to learn anything from the U.S.? Tongans had a great way of embracing everyone in society. I want Tonga to be more discerning about what they import.

 

Hamer: One thing the U.S. can learn is that gender diversity has been around for centuries, and widely accepted in many parts of the world. The vast majority hid because the forces against them were so strong, but they were still there. It isn’t going to kill society if those people don’t hide anymore.

 


Leitis in Waiting

Saturday, May 25 at 8:00 pm

Click here to see PACIFIC HEARTBEAT SEASON 8 programming lineup and schedule

 

 

 

ANCIENT INVISIBLE CITIES
Istanbul

 

Using 3D-imaging technology, Professor Darius Arya brings Istanbul’s tumultuous history alive in his examination of one of history’s most iconic buildings: the Hagia Sophia. Built by the Romans, this Christian cathedral survived 1,500 years of earthquakes, riots, sieges and conquest to become a mosque and now a museum.

 

 

NHK World Documentary
Road to Redemption

NHK Documentary: Road to Redemption

 

This film tells the story of two men who stood on opposite sides of the front line in World War II. Mitsuo Fuchida was the chief commander of Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor. Jacob DeShazer, a U.S. Army Air Force corporal, dropped incendiary bombs on Nagoya in a revenge raid. After the war, both became devout Christians and embarked on missions in each other’s homeland. They eventually met – and forged a bond.

 

RICK STEVES’ EUROPE
Bulgaria

 

Bulgaria, so mysterious to most Americans, has a vivid identity as a crossroads of the Balkans. We’ll trace the country’s complex history, from ancient Thracian tombs to medieval Orthodox Christian monasteries to Soviet monuments. And we’ll enjoy an intimate taste of contemporary culture: the yellow brick road of Sofia; the gregarious craftspeople of the medieval capital, Veliko Tarnovo; and the thriving pedestrian zones of cosmopolitan Plovdiv.

 

STANDING ON SACRED GROUND
Fire & Ice

 

In the Gamo Highlands of Ethiopia, scientists confirm the benefits of traditional stewardship even as elders witness the decline of spiritual practices that have long protected trees, meadows and mountains. Tensions with evangelical Christians over a sacred meadow erupt into a riot. In the Peruvian Andes, the Q’eros, on a pilgrimage to a revered glacier, are driven from their ritual site by intolerant Catholics.

 

RICK STEVES’
The Best of Israel

 

America’s leading authority on European travel, returns to transport viewers to bustling cities, quaint villages and picturesque countrysides. Each episode contains Rick’s valuable insights on art, culture and history, and his practical, experience-enhancing travel advice. 

 

The Best of Israel 
We start in Jerusalem, alive with religious tradition and passion – Christian, Muslim, and Jewish. We then visit cosmopolitan Tel Aviv, the fortress of Masada and the Sea of Galilee. We’ll also pay our respects at the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, drop into an Orthodox Jewish neighborhood to savor the local cuisine.

 

 

SACRED JOURNEYS WITH BRUCE FEILER
Jerusalem

 

Join host Bruce Feiler on an unprecedented journey to the world’s most meaningful landscapes and rigorous religious pilgrimages. Feiler and contemporary sojourners trek to sacred sites visited annually by hundreds of millions of pilgrims. Each episode follows a modern-day pilgrim on a private spiritual journey. The series presents a comprehensive picture of the practice of pilgrimage in its varied expressions around the globe, over thousands of years.

 

Jerusalem
Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles, is one of three great festivals in the Jewish calendar when, in ancient times, Jews from across Israel were commanded to come to the Temple in Jerusalem on pilgrimage.   But although Jewish pilgrimage lessened in importance after the destruction of the Temple by the Romans in 62 C.E., Christian pilgrims began coming to Jerusalem and the Holy Land within centuries of Jesus’ death.

 

During the week of Sukkot, host Bruce Feiler travels to Israel with Jewish and Christian pilgrims.  For many Christians, the road to Jerusalem begins in the Galilee along the Jesus Trail, a route that follows the path of Jesus’ ministry.  For a Jewish pilgrim from Philadelphia, spending Sukkot in Jerusalem not only honors ancient Jewish pilgrimage but also her personal time of decision, whether to remain in America or move to Jerusalem on permanent pilgrimage.