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This is one of the first explorations of the Samoan fa'afafines, boys who are raised as girls, fulfilling a traditional role in Samoan culture. The film shows how in the large Samoan family there may be one or two fa'afafines who are not only accepted but appreciated. They cheerfully share the women's traditional work of cooking, cleaning and caring for children and the elderly. Today's fa'afafines are becoming more westernized and look more like drag queens.
Dance has always been an important part of Samoan culture. From an early age, the fa'afafines dance the female role, and many continue to dance as entertainers in nightclubs. We meet Cindy, a popular dancer, who has fallen in love with a representative of the Australian High Commission. They live together in the Australian compound, which lands him in trouble. He is transferred to Australia, but gives up his job and returns to be with Cindy.
Several anthropologists, including Derek Freeman and Tom Pollard comment on the phenomenon. Paradise Bent brings up issues of culture and gender and the complexities of sexual identity.
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