A Place in the Middle

"Kumu Hina: A Place in the Middle" Premieres at the 65th Berlinale Film Festival

Jan. 17, 2015:

Produced & Directed by O'ahu residents Dean Hamer and Joe Wilson in association with Pacific Islanders in Communications, the film tells the story of a young girl who aspires to lead her school's all-male hula troupe and a teacher who uses Hawaiian culture to empower her.

A true life Whale Rider!” -Huffington Post

January 20, 2015 – (Haleiwa, HI) – KUMU HINA: A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE is one of 65 films from 35 countries selected for the 65th Berlinale's Generation programme, a slate of state-of-the-art world cinema devoted to children and young people seen by more than 60,000 attendees annually.

Firmly grounded in their respective cultural contexts, the selected films paint sensitive portraits of extraordinary characters often living in hermetically sealed worlds. “We experience young people who bear too much weight on their shoulders,” as section head Maryanne Redpath describes one of this year's recurring themes. “The high degree of self-determination with which these children and adolescents liberate themselves from their predicaments is striking.”

A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE is the educational version of Hamer and Wilson's feature documentary KUMU HINA, which was the Closing Night Feature in the Hawai'i International Film Festival's 2014 Spring Showcase. The film has traveled the world for festival, campus, and community screenings, and will have its national PBS broadcast on Independent Lens on May 4, 2015.

In A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE, eleven year-old Ho'onani dreams of leading the hula troupe at her Honolulu middle school. The only trouble is that the troupe is just for boys. She's fortunate that her devoted teacher, Kumu Hina Wong-Kalu, understands first-hand what it means to be 'in the middle' – embracing both male and female spirit. Together, as they prepare for a big year-end public performance, student and teacher reveal that what matters most is what's in one's heart.

With nearly 500,000 visitors each year, the Berlinale is the largest publicly attended film festival in the world. A PLACE IN THE MIDDLE was one of over 5,000 submissions to the festival this year, and the only selection from Hawai‘i.

An inspiring coming-of-age story on the power of culture to shape identity, personal agency, and community cohesion, from a young person's point-of-view.” -Cara Mertes, Ford Foundation's JustFilms

I know that this film will bring understanding and enlightenment to all who view it.”

-Leanne Ferrer, Pacific Islanders in Communications

Festival info: Berlinale 2015

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