“KAWA”— A Family in Crisis


A Family in Crisis

Amos Lassen

I just finished watching the screener of an amazing new film, “Kawa” which will be released on DVD on May 8th from Wolfe Video. It follows Kawa, a successful businessman in New Zealand who is forced to admit to himself and his family that he is gay. Married and with two children, Kawa (Calvin Tuteao) was considered to be a prince by those that knew him and then everything changed. Kawa whose full name is Kawariki becomes the head of his extended family with his father’s retirement and he feels that in order to be honest and lead the family with integrity, he must be who he is and starts by taking his own apartment and moving away from his wife and children. He knows that coming out will not be easy and very possibly will test others’ ability to relate to hi and to love him. The Maoris of New Zealand have a strong tradition of family and a large set of cultural values. We, thanks to director Katie Wolfe, are able to see that here.

This is a multi-layered film that has something for everyone. It is visually beautiful and the acting is excellent. There is a great deal of emotion shown in the film and this one of those movies that keeps the viewer’s eyes wet.

There are several excellent scenes. One of them is when Kawa tells his wife that he is gay and another when he tells his father. All of us should be able to identify with what he was going through at the time and we hope that everything will work out. There were times that I was reminded on the older films when the gay guy would come out looking badly because he was not honest with who he was but an unexpected ending here saved the film.

I really found it interesting in seeing the Maori customs for head of the family and even hearing the language being spoken. We do not get many films about Maori life and one about a gay Maori is certainly a treat. I cannot recommend this film enough but be prepared to go on an emotional journey.

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