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“One Thousand Ropes” in Am Samoa

Cast with producer and director of Tusi Tamasese’s Samoan-language drama "One Thousand Ropes" during the World Premiere at the Berlin Film Festival 2017. (l-r) Nicky Si'ulepa, Uelese Petaia, Frankie Adams, Producer Catherine Fitzgerald, and Writer/Director Tusi Tamasese. The film is set to debut locally at the Fatu-O-Aiga Hall, in Tafuna, Thursday, Oct. 26 & Friday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m. — “Ata tifaga Samoa ile gagana Samoa”. Tickets are $10. Contact numbers for more info are: 258-4197 or 258-5800. The movie is p

The film, “One Thousand Ropes”, is set to debut in American Samoa at the Fatu-O-Aiga Hall, in Tafuna, Thursday, Oct. 26 & Friday, Oct. 27, 7 p.m. From the Writer and Director of The Orator - O Le Tulafale – Tusi Tamasese, “One Thousand Ropes” is a story of a father reconnecting with his daughter, set in Wellington, New Zealand. 

It stars Samoan award winning actor Uelese Petaia, Frankie Adams, Beulah Koale, Ene Petaia, and Sima Urale; and is in the Samoan language, with English subtitles.

The movie is proudly presented by Talofa Airways with Up Media in support of Catholic Social Services, with all proceeds going to Catholic Social Services. Other sponsors of the event include 93KHJ and V103.

Tickets are $10. Contact numbers for more info are: 258-4197 or 258-5800.

The following is a review from a reader who saw the movie when it premiered in Samoa:

“One Thousand Ropes”

Review by Jubal

If you’ve seen “Three Wise Cousins” you know it’s a movie about a naive young man from New Zealand who travels to Samoa and gains precious insight into women, family and responsibility from his cousins in Upolu. After watching “Cousins” you leave the movie theater feeling pretty good.

On the other hand, the film “One Thousand Ropes” takes place in the urban villages of New Zealand. It is also about women, family, and responsibility. But “Ropes” is a depiction done with brutal honesty. You might leave the theater feeling like you’ve been punished with a thousand wicked and violent lashes. “Ropes” is a shocking yet sensitive portrayal of life and death as well as the living dead.

To be sure, Director Tui Tamasese has done all of Samoa proud. In the same way you might think of French Cinema or Japanese Cinema, Tamasese’s work stands as what can be called “Samoan Cinema”. Besides a Samoan cast, there is the uncompromising use of the Samoan language without English sub-titles. The film opened in Apia with a traditional welcome (feiloaiga) and a minister’s prayer.

The lead character is a baker played powerfully by Tuiasau Uelese Petaia. A baker is common enough but this one happens to also be a Samoan taulasea with a rage simmering beneath the surface that gets pounded into the making of dough.

One day the baker’s pregnant daughter appears without a husband and with a face that’s been beaten to a pulp. Domestic violence occupies the real world we live in and it’s the same for the world of “Ropes.” Tamasese does not indulge the audience in gratuitous violence. The beatings are done in shadows. Nor is the domestic violence is re-enacted. Only its brutal consequences are shown as seen by the bruises and lacerations on the pregnant daughter’s face or the knuckles of the character -- Maea.

Coming from Pago, the social housing of inner-city Arlington looks nice enough. It’s New Zealand’s version of public housing. The sparsely furnished apartment with its bare walls and frayed fala visually project the same kind of emotional emptiness of a Kuhio Park Terrace apartment. Coming from Pago, we aren’t accustomed to seeing and hearing Samoans in the urban cold and wind. It’s surely doesn’t feel like a place to bury an umbilical placenta.

Are there any final lessons to “Ropes”? Probably not. But there is the deep regret of an old man whose children don’t visit. And there is redemption. It’s a film worth seeing.