North & South - - Four Corners -

HANDS THAT once pul­verised flesh in the box­ing ring (and be­hind closed doors) now ten­derly shep­herd frag­ile life into the world in Samoan writer and di­rec­tor Tusi Ta­masese’s new fea­ture film, about a for­mer fighter once known as “the Lion” who is haunted, at times quite lit­er­ally, by his ghosts.

Shot in Welling­ton and re­leased na­tion­wide on March 23, One Thou­sand Ropes pre­miered as a Panorama Spe­cial se­lec­tion at this year’s Berlin Film Fes­ti­val, with lu­mi­nous cin­e­matog­ra­phy by Leon Nar­bey and di­a­logue spo­ken in both English and Samoan.

Ue­lese Pe­taia, who starred in the film adap­ta­tion of Al­bert Wendt’s Sons for the Re­turn Home in 1979, plays the cen­tral char­ac­ter of Maea, a baker and fa’atosaga (tra­di­tional mid­wife) with a vi­o­lent past he can’t for­get; Short­land Street vet­eran Frankie Adams is Ilisa, the daugh­ter who turns up on his doorstep, preg­nant and badly beaten.

Ta­masese, who won best film, best di­rec­tor and best screen­play in the New Zealand Film Awards with his stir­ring de­but, The Or­a­tor, in 2012, says most of his favourite movies are about anti-he­roes and their search for re­demp­tion – “peo­ple at the ends of de­spair who, through the strength of the hu­man spirit, find their way out”.

Ue­lese Pe­taia

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