The Film Commission announced this morning that production will commence 27 October on The Orator. The film, written and to be directed by Samoan-born and raised Tauti Tusi Tamasese will be his feature debut and be the first NZFC-funded film to be shot entirely in Samoa and in Samoan.
Produced by Catherine Fitzgerald (Rain of the Children, Event 16, Two Cars One Night) with Associate Producers Maiava Nathaniel Lees and Transmission’s Michael Eldred, The Orator (O Le Tulafale) 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 will be shot by Leon Narbey (No 2, Dean Spanley, Whale Rider).
Some of the team have worked together previously on Tamasese’s Samoan language short Va Tapuia (Sacred Spaces) screened earlier this year at the New Zealand International Film Festival. Catherine Fitzgerald produced with Leon Narbey as DP. Va Tapuia will also screen at the ImagineNative International Film Festival in Toronto, and the Hawaii International Film Festival.
The Orator will star newcomers Fiaula Sanote as Saili, and Tausili Pushparaj as his wife Vaaiga.
Making the announcement, NZFC CEO Graeme Mason said, “The themes in The Orator are universal – love, courage, personal adversity and honour. 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.”
Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Hon Misa Tellefoni said, “The film will bring the finest aspects of traditions of our Samoan culture into the international spotlight. It is a beautiful and poignant love story that will provide a moving tribute to the magnificent splendour of Samoa and our Samoan people.”
The Orator is financed by the New Zealand Film Commission. It will be distributed in New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific by Transmission Films, who most recently released BOY. NZ Film, the sales arm of the NZFC, is handling world sales of the film.