O le tulafale
Directed by Tusi Tamasese
Special Jury Mention, Orrizonti Section, 2011 Venice Film Festival
Official Selection, 2012 Sundance Film Festival
The first-ever feature film in the Samoan language speaks loudly. From out of the yam leaves and across the fields where men exert their masculinity comes a voice demanding to be heard. A little person, Saili, lives just outside of town with his ostracized wife Vaaiga and their teenage daughter. Looked down upon from by his village and hers, they live a quiet, solitary life until Saili decides he must bury his loved ones in accordance to the rituals of his family. Meanwhile, in a huge slight to Saili, Vaaiga’s family arrives to take her away. It’s time. Saili must make himself heard.
THE ORATOR pulls no punches when it comes to showcasing the will of men attempting to overtake each other through performance – nor when it comes to presenting the beautiful lushness of Upolu Island in Samoa. The most impressive thing about THE ORATOR, aside from the fact that it’s a first time feature, is how it manages to represent Samoan traditional culture in all of its complexity, without ever appearing didactically or reductively ethnographic, instead allowing the details of ritual to energize the drama and its themes of honor, love, and mourning. THE ORATOR speaks volumes about new talent Tusi Tamasese and all of Samoan cinema to come. –Brian Hu
Cast: Fa’afiaula Sanote, Tausili Pushparaj, Salamasina Mataia, Ioata Tanielu