Kumu Hina is a documentary film about the life of Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (Hina), a teacher of the traditional dance of Hawaii and a transgender woman. The film focuses overtly upon four aspects of Hina’s life: her attempt to teach a group of male students at Hālau Lokahi Public Charter School how to perform traditional Hawaiian dance, her mentoring of a transgender boy (Hoonani Kamai) who is attempting to join the male group, her work as the chair of the Oahu Island Burial Council, and Hina’s relationship and marriage to her Fijian husband, Hema.
But there is a continual subtext of a fifth aspect to Hina, which is the story of the traditional transgender people of Hawaii and the Pacific Islands, who are called māhū*. The māhū have been a respected part of Hawaiian culture since antiquity, and were noted as existing by the first Europeans who visited the islands. However, with the influx of European Christianity and its missionaries, several attempts were made over time to demonize and criminalize the māhū out of existence. For Hina, teaching the language, the dance, and working with the young transgender boy is part of her work to preserve the māhū culture.
A complete movie review of this very well-done documentary can be found at this link.