A Place in the Middle

USA, 2014
25 minutes
Dean Hammer
  • Joe Wilson


She feels more like a boy than even most boys. This documentary follows eleven-year-old Hawaiian
girl Ho’onani who dreams of leading her school’s traditional hula group. Hula is a mixture of dance
and theatrical performance that is central to the culture of the Hawaiian people and requires a lot of
practice. Here too, Ho’onani would like to dance on the boys’ side. Normally she wouldn't be allowed
to do so but Ho’onani is fortunate to have as her teacher the charismatic Kumu Hina, who assigns
Ho’onani a special place in the middle. In ancient Hawaii there was always a life between genders,
and a place for those who embrace both men and women. Kumu Hina knows what she is talking
about for, twenty years ago, she was a man. Kumu Hina uses her profound knowledge to convey to
her pupils the culture of their ancestors – a culture that has not been forgotten, in spite of years of
influence by Christian missionaries. The magic word is ‘aloha’, meaning a life in harmony with nature.
It also means that every man and every woman should be loved, respected and valued.


Born in Montclair, New Jersey in 1951, he is a scientist, bestselling nonfiction
author and award-winning filmmaker who uses media to explain complex and controversial topics to audiences of all ages. He lives with his partner Joe Wilson on the north shore of the Hawaiian island of O’ahu and collaborates with him there in  making films about the history and culture of Pacific islanders.

FILMOGRAPHY Dean Hammer (selection)

2014 Kumu Hina 2014 Boy in a Dress 2010 Out in the Silence 2008 Thorn in Your Side 2006 Joy Ride 2006 We Belong 2006 The Preacher and the Poet 2006 Otros amores 2005 Favela Surf Dreams 



Production company
Qwaves, Haleia, Hawaii 96172
Original title
Kumu Hina