Film highlights Samoa’s struggles for freedom

By Nefertiti Matatia ,

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READY AND ACTION: The cast and crew during the filming of Liliu in Samoa.

READY AND ACTION: The cast and crew during the filming of Liliu in Samoa. (Photo: Supplied)

The history of Samoa has been retold in a short film called “Liliu.”

Directed by Jeremiah Tauamiti, a filmmaker from New Zealand, the film was screened at the N.U.S. Fale Samoa as part of the Pacific Arts Association Conference this week.

The film tells the story of the struggles faced by our ancestors under the New Zealand administration. 

“Liliu was a film that we shot earlier this year in Samoa,” said Mr. Taumiti.

“It is about a Samoan chief that was charged with trespassing. I guess the biggest story is about our people in the past, around World War II when our people went to jail and when Samoa was ruled by the New Zealand government.”

The Director says there are many messages in the film but the one theme that stands out for him is Samoans yearning for freedom and their courage to ensure their voice is heard in their own country.

 “I wrote it because our people need to know and understand in the sense that today our people again are becoming political prisoners to foreign people coming into our own country,” he said.

Liliu is focused on unveiling the mystery behind the Samoan culture and its people. Mr. Tauamiti spoke about the importance of holding onto to our culture.

“I think our people need to return to how it used to be. I don’t mean it in a bad way but our strength is found within our culture. 

“Corruption is always caused by money or power but we need to stay true to our traditional power base.”

Mr. Tauamiti said the turning point of the story was when one of the characters of the film, Solo, who was the interpreter, was corrected by a person who he normally looked down upon. 

“Solo was working for the New Zealand government as an interpreter but he ended up betraying his own Samoan people. 

“The true meaning of culture or being true to his people was actually revealed through someone else that he least expected so much from.”

Mr. Tauamiti said the weather and also bringing the crew over to film in Samoa were two challenges he encountered. 

“The weather here in Samoa damages our equipment, not only that, but looking for funds to bring the crew over to shoot the film.”

He added his main concern was whether he deserved to make the film or not because he was born in New Zealand.

“My Samoan is not very good which was why I hesitated if I was worthy enough to make the film or not, especially the fact that I was born in New Zealand not here.”

Accuracy was another challenge. 

Mr. Tauamiti said he also looked for relevant information because a lot of the data he gathered about the colonization of Samoa were mostly written by foreigners.

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