PROFILE: Tusi Tamasese, Filmmaker

Tusi Tamasese, 40, is a Samoan-born New Zealand film director. He is of high chiefly descent, of the Tupua Tamasese lineage. He came to New Zealand at the age of 18 with the intention to go to university, but, lacking a scholarship, began by working “picking tomatoes”. He eventually did study at the New Zealand Film School, at the Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Waikato; he obtained a bachelor’s degree in social sciences, and a Master of Arts degree in creative writing. He now lives in Wellington.

He wrote and directed his first short film, Va Tapuia (Sacred Spaces), which was “screened at the 2010 NZ Film Festival and then at festivals around the world”. He went on to make Samoa’s first ever feature film, The Orator (O Le Tulafale), which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in 2011.

The Orator went on to achieve international and local acclaim. It was New Zealand’s first entry into the best foreign-language film category for the Academy Awards and was celebrated on the international circuit including Sundance and Berlin film festivals. The NZ$2.9 million production was funded by the New Zealand Film Commission (90%) and the Samoan government (10%). He described it as “my image of what I see of growing up in Samoa”.

One Thousand Ropes is his second feature. Principal photography for One Thousand Ropes began in November 2015 in Wellington

A powerful character drama, One Thousand Ropes is an emotional story about Maea a Samoan father reconnecting with his daughter Ilisa. Maea, a former middle weight boxer, uses his hands to massage pregnant women and to knead bread at a bakery: he is gifted in both arts. Despite these talents, he was once a volatile man. Now older, Maea navigates the push and pull of connections to the land, people, past and destiny. His daughter’s timely arrival has a lasting effect on both of their lives.

The film stars a talented local cast including Frankie Adams (Shortland Street) in her feature film debut, Uelese Petaia (Sons for the Return Home), Beulah Koale (Last Saint, Shortland Street), Sima Urale (Apron Strings), Ene Petaia (Sione’s Wedding) and Anapela Polataivao (Night Shift, The Market). They star alongside some fantastic new discoveries.

One Thousand Ropes is the second feature together for Tamasese (director and writer) and Catherine Fitzgerald (producer) and is a Blueskin Films production in association with the New Zealand Film Commission and Fulcrum Media Finance. International sales are managed by Mongrel Media.

In February 2015, Tusi Tamasese was announced as the recipient of the first Directors & Editors Guild of New Zealand (DEGNZ) International Director Mentorship. Tamasese will be matched with an international film director as a mentor to help guide his career.

Watch an interview here with Tusi Tamasese on FRESH from 2011.

Source: wikipedia, nz herald, trigger marketing