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SYDNEY — Samoan filmmaker Tauti Tusi Tamasese, and a group of New Zealanders are making the Pacific Island nation’s first full-length feature film.
With financing from the New Zealand Film Commission, “The Orator” (“O Le Tulafale”), is the first feature to be entirely shot in Samoa, in the Samoan language, with a Samoan cast and story.
Produced by Catherine Fitzgerald with associate producers Maiava Nathaniel Lees and Michael Eldred, “The Orator” is the story of Saili, a small man with a big heart, who must find the strength to speak up for those that he loves. It’s Tamasese’s debut feature.
The film will star newcomers Fiaula Sanote as Saili, and Tausili Pushparaj as his wife Vaaiga. It will be shot by NZ cinematographer Leon Narbey. Production gets under way in Samoa on October 27.
Samoa’s deputy prime minister Misa Telefoni said the film is “a beautiful and poignant love story that will provide a moving tribute to the magnificent splendor of Samoa and our Samoan people.” He added, “It will bring the finest aspects of traditions of our Samoan culture into the international spotlight.”
“The themes in ‘The Orator’ are universal — love, courage, personal adversity and honor. New Zealand has an extremely strong connection with Samoa and we are excited to be involved in the production of this film and the discovery of Samoan tradition and values by the New Zealand theatrical audience,” NZFC CEO Graeme Mason added.
Tamasese has previously made the short film “Sacred Spaces” (“Va Tapuia”), set in a cyclone ravaged Samoan village. “Va Tapuia” aired at the New Zealand International Film Festival and will screen at the ImagineNative International Film Festival in Toronto, and the Hawaii International Film Festival.
Australia’s Transmission Films will distribute “The Orator” in Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific while NZ Film, the sales arm of the NZFC, is handling world sales of the film.
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