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World Premiere of “The Tuiga Pt. 2” A Success

Press Release – South Pacific Pictures

South Seas Pictures Press Release Friday, February 3, 2012 World Premiere of “The Tuiga Pt. 2” A Success By James Kneubuhl The world premiere of the new work by Samoan filmmaker Tanupo Aukuso, “The Tuiga Pt. 2” took place in American Samoa …South Seas Pictures Press Release Friday, February 3, 2012
World Premiere of “The Tuiga Pt. 2” A Success
By James Kneubuhl
The world premiere of the new work by Samoan filmmaker Tanupo Aukuso, “The Tuiga Pt. 2” took place in American Samoa on Tuesday, January 31 at the Maliu Mai Beach Resort. The new film, which carries forward the story begun in Aukuso’s previous work, “The Tuiga Pt. 1”, made its debut to a room filled with families and friends of Aukuso, his cast and crew, local media representatives, American Samoa government officials, Samoan MPs, and local business professionals. The evening’s program also included entertainment and several speeches to mark the occasion. “Our audience was a very mixed cross-section of the community from American Samoa and the Independent State of Samoa,” said Aukuso. “We can’t ask for more.”

When asked about the audience’s response to the new film, Aukuso enthused, “The most frequent reaction was, ‘We can’t wait for The Tuiga Pt. 3!’” Like “The Tuiga Pt. 1”, the second chapter ends in a cliff-hanger which the third installment will resolve. The story involves a young woman named Pualemamae, who is first chosen then rejected by her family for the traditional cultural role of taupou or wearer of the ceremonial head dress known as the tuiga. “The Tuiga Pt. 2” follows Pualemamae’s story as she tries to start a new life in American Samoa, only to be swept up once again in the affairs of her family and village back home in the Independent State of Samoa.

The new film reflects the current realities of Samoan culture, where disputes over important chiefly titles are often settled in court if a solution cannot be reached within a village. The filmmaker drew on personal experience as his catalyst for the story. “The idea came to me while I was putting together a land and title court case for my family two years ago,” Aukuso recalled. “So I started writing ‘The Tuiga’.”

Aukuso filmed “The Tuiga Pt. 2” in both Samoas, and working with an American Samoan cast was a new experience for him. “I am very happy with the American Samoan actors,” said the filmmaker. “All of them are first-timers, and I’m amazed with the raw acting talent they posses.” Aukuso plans to start filming the third installment of the “Tuiga” this coming April, but first he plans to take something of a stylistic detour. “I’m filming another movie next month, which will be filmed solely in Am Samoa,” he revealed. “It’s a love story called ‘Tauaso le Alofa’ or Love is Blind.”
Aukuso’s company, South Seas Pictures Ltd., has an editing facility set up in Samoa, with additional resources in New Zealand. His dedication has paid off with several of his works, such as parts one and two of “Broken Promises”, and part one of “The Tuiga” receiving invitations for screenings at film festivals in New Zealand, Australia and the United States. “It’s difficult being a Samoan filmmaker,” Aukuso reflected. “We’re the first film company to base our operations mainly in Samoa, and all my projects are self-funded. All my movies are low budget, but I’m hoping that one day a major studio will lend us a helping hand. This would help pave the way to a brighter future, not only for South Seas Pictures, but for the film industry in Samoa. I believe that given the resources and the funds, someone from Samoa could make an Oscar winning movie.”

Aukuso calls his success as an emerging filmmaker “a gift from God”, and cites “Lord of the Rings” mastermind Peter Jackson as his main filmmaking inspiration. Reflecting on his own creative process, he offered some unusual insights. “By trade, I am a newspaper man,” he explained. “I used to own a Samoan newspaper in New Zealand for more than twenty years, and I sometimes wrote multi-part stories for the paper. But writing wasn’t enough for me, and I wanted to see the characters I wrote about come to life, which is what triggered my passion of making movies. That’s often how I plan which direction to go in next. To my surprise, my wife asked me the other day, ’Why don’t we make a movie based on one of the stories that you wrote, ‘Tautoga Gausia’? And I just said, ‘Ok let’s do it.’”

As a closing thought, when asked what kind of film he would make if he had the backing of a major studio and an unlimited budget, Aukuso mused, “There are a lot of stories in Samoa I would like to bring to the screen, especially the myths and legends. But on a more practical level, even if we could use resources like that just to improve our cinematography, I know films from Samoa could do well worldwide.”

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