THE TIES THAT BIND
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”.