Saturday, June 18, 2011


Kawa (Calvin Tuteao)
Kawa, dir. Katie Wolfe, 2011 New Zealand, 76 min. 
Tue. 6/21, 4:00p @ Castro, KAWA21C
Thu. 6/23, 9:30p @ Elmwood, KAWA23E

Kawa is a family man from a traditional Māori (New Zealand native) family, the son of a clan leader. He has a wife and two kids, but he also has a secret that is gnawing at him and threatening to dissolve his marriage. His white boyfriend is losing patience with his closetedness, but his Māori family views homosexuality as dishonorable, disgusting, contemptible, and completely incompatible with the family leadership role Kawa is expected to take up from his ailing father. He has nowhere to turn.

The Māori culture and language is strikingly similar to Hawaiian — indeed, the Māori name for their mythical ancestral homeland is Hawai‘iki. Kawa and his family, even his young daughter, all speak Māori fluently, and carry on the cultural traditions as an integral part of their lives, not merely as a token observance only on major holidays. That cultural backdrop, rivaling any fundamentalist Christian upbringing for deep-seated homophobia, underpins the story.

Calvin Tuteao as Kawa brings to life a man deeply committed to irreconcilable principles: he is committed to his wife and children, but also to his boyfriend. He is committed to his family and culture, but also to an individual identity that he can no longer deny. The entire cast excels, the photography is gorgeous, and the story is compelling (based on the novel Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera). Definitely a Must See.

1 comment:

  1. To watch a man try to choose between two very strong and viable life paths is compelling. We have the freedom of choice every day but sometimes choosing can be the hardest thing we do in life. Kawa's love for both choices drives this script and endears the watcher to help him decide.