Heart to Heart cast & crew off to promote film
Four members of the team that brought us the local hit, “Heart to Heart” (Fatu ole Alofa) departed the territory Monday night for Honolulu, Hawai’i to promote their work and personally witness the premier of their movie tonight in the Aloha State.
Tafia Taimalelagi, one of the actresses in the movie and also the president of the Association of American Samoa Actors (A’ASA), told Samoa News in a telephone interview on Monday that tonight’s premier will be attended by a special VIP guest list that includes Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
The movie will be shown at two other locations on Oahu on Thursday and Friday, with the last showing set for Saturday at the Polynesian Cultural Center and Brigham Young University (BYU) in Laie.
Taimalelagi departed the territory on Monday night’s flight with film director and founder of Navigator Island Pictures Zena Noah Iese, cameraman Alexander Zodiacal Jr., and Maddy Unutoa of the Families Student Support (FamSS) Group. They will be joining FamSS president Samuelu Unutoa and his daughter Christine Sissy Unutoa (the lead actress in the movie) who are already in Hawaii.
Heart to Heart is collaboration between A’ASA, Nav-I-Pics, and FamSS. It is the first ever feature length film written, produced, directed and cast by natives of American Samoa and filmed on site in the territory.
The movie premiered earlier this month at the Governor H. Rex Lee Auditorium in Utulei to a sold out crowd during both showings on July 6.
After the premier in Hawaii, the group is scheduled to travel to Washington State for showings in Seattle, Tacoma, and Walla Walla.
Afterwards, they will head to California, with scheduled stops in San Diego, Anaheim, and San Francisco.
Taimalelagi said some of the group members may continue on to Alaska, and there is talk of a premier in Salt Lake City, Utah, where there is a large Samoan population.
Taimalelagi reported that in addition to the United States, the group is also planning on showcasing their film in other islands across the Pacific Region, to include the independent state of Samoa, New Zealand and Australia.
The trip off-island to promote the film fulfills, in part, the goal of exposing local actors and actresses to the outside world, and also promoting the territory as a filming site for future movie productions.
Samuelu Unutoa during his opening remarks at the movie’s local premier told the audience, “If we can just get a chance to expose the talent we have here, especially our natural resource - which is the beauty of our island - we will have done what we set out to do.”
Although there have been many short films recorded locally, Heart to Heart is the first full length feature film for American Samoa. (A full-length film is 90 minutes or more from start to finish). Trailers for the movie have been viewed by thousands of people worldwide on YouTube.
Both Iese and Unutoa agree that the territory is filled with talent and if they can find enough funding to market Heart to Heart off island, there will be exposure and perhaps someday, American Samoa will be a place filmmakers, producers, and directors will visit to scout for actors or even use as a site to film their work.
The movie is based on a story written by Mareta Purcell-Unutoa who plays Marina, one of the main characters in the movie. The entire film is in the Samoan language with English subtitles.
A sequel to the movie is projected to be ready for viewing by the general public sometime later this year, probably around Thanksgiving. In addition, DVD copies for the first film will be available for sale soon.
It took Iese less than two months to complete the actual filming process on a budget of less than $5,000 (unheard of for a full length feature film). But the results have brought some well-deserved praise.