Leitis in Waiting is a candid portrait of Joey Mataele and the Tonga leitis, an intrepid group of native transgender women fighting a rising tide of religious fundamentalism 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 would 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 forsakingculture and tradition.
Premiere: The British Museum. Broadcast: PBS/Pacific Heartbeat, ARTE. Awards: Audience Award, Festival of Commonwealth Film; Special Jury Prize, FIFO Tahiti