A powerful coming out movie, Kawa is a gorgeously cinematic drama that tells a transcendent tale of bravery, love, family and pride. Based on the semi-autobiographical novel Nights in the Gardens of Spain by Witi Ihimaera (the writer of The Whale Rider), this deeply moving New Zealand drama has earned critical and popular acclaim on the LGBT film festival circuit and beyond. When successful businessman Kawa (the ruggedly handsome Calvin Tuteao) finds the courage to tell his wife and kids, his parents and his traditional Maori community that he’s gay the struggle he endures is not an easy one.
Kawa is a psychological drama of a family in crisis as Kawa, a successful Māori businessman in Auckland, New Zealand, is forced to reveal his lifelong secret that he is gay.
Kawa is the man who has everything. He’s a corporate high-flyer, being groomed to take over his prominent family’s company, properties and legacy. He and his beautiful wife Annabelle have two children –16-year-old Sebastian (Pana Hema-Taylor) and 7-year-old Miranda (Miriama Jane Devantier) – who he loves deeply. They live in an elegant house and all appears perfect in their world.
But Kawa has a secret. He is gay. He always has been. And he’s never shared his secret life with his wife or his family.
Kawa was brought up by his parents – Hamiora (George Henare) and Grace (Vicky Haughton) – and his whānau (‘family’) with a strong sense of duty, is a man of special gifts who is expected to lead his community, and moves easily within both Māori and Pākehā worlds.
Until recently Kawa has led a perfected double-life, but now his father Hamiora is retiring and ready to hand him the mantle of leadership. At the same time, his lover Chris is pushing for more recognition in Kawa’s life, no longer happy with keeping their relationship a secret.
As the film opens, Kawa has moved out of the family home. His wife is desperate to understand why – she knows the marriage is in trouble – and she wants to do whatever it takes to make things right. But Kawa is unable to talk about it. He hopes, instead, that he can continue to keep his life in separate compartments.
But when his lover arrives at the whānau celebration of his father’s birthday celebration, pressures intensify and Kawa realises that his life must change. And that many people will be hurt, including himself.
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“Fabulous.” — Hotspots Magazine
“A touching tale.” — indieWIRE.com
“A visually stunning family saga.” — Movie Dearest
“Powerful.” — Hyphen Magazine
“Stunning.” — Talk Movies World