Tusi Tamasese is one to watch. He has had notable success with his film work, and is perhaps best known for Samoan language film, The Orator. The film received recognition at the 2011 Venice Film Festival, including two awards and a special mention from the jury. It was New Zealand’s submission for the Best Foreign Language Film to the 84th Academy Awards.

Tusi was born and raised in Vaimoso, Samoa. He came to New Zealand at the age of eighteen and studied at the New Zealand Film School, Victoria University of Wellington and at the University of Waikato where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in social sciences and a Master of Arts degree in creative writing.  

In 2007, the feature film script that Tusi had written for his MA degree won the Embassy Trust Award and Dominion Post Award. In 2009 Tusi wrote and directed the short film Va Tapuia/Sacred Spaces. The short film screened at a number of international film festivals including the NZ Film Festival, ImagiNative Film Festival (Toronto), Oberhausen (Germany) and Clermont Ferrand (France). The crew for the short film would form the core team for Tusi’s next project.  

In 2011, Tusi’s 2007 MA script became his feature film directorial debut O le Tulafale/The OratorThe Orator was shot in Samoa, and is entirely in the Samoan language. The film premiered in competition at the 2011 Venice Film Festival in the Orizzonti (New Horizons) section.  

One Thousand Ropes is the second feature film written and directed by Tusi. Shot in the Wellington suburb of Newtown in November and December of 2015, and released in 2017, One Thousand Ropes is a powerful character drama of a father reconnecting with his youngest daughter and together putting to rest the ghosts that haunt them.

Tusi lives with his wife Melanie and three children in Wellington. 



The trailer for the new Samoan film 'The Orator' released by Transmission Films in Australia and Madman in NZ. Written and directed by Tusi Tamasese The Orator follows the story of Saili, a simple villager who must find the strength to defend his land and family, which are threatened by powerful adversaries.
An interview with Tusi Tamasese about The Orator
Short Film (Full Length), NZ On Screen


Stills from 'The Orator'