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One Thousand Ropes

/ Presented as part of Filmatique's Foreign Language Oscar Submissions II Series //

Spotlight on One Thousand Ropes




Tusi Tamasese / 2016, Berlin, Adelaide, Asian Film Festival Barcelona, BFI London, Heartlands Film Festival, Māoriland Film Festival, Palm Springs, Stockholm / 98'


Maea used to go by the nickname 'the Lion,' a brave Samoan fighter. Now he is a middle-aged baker living in suburban Wellington— and also an unlikely midwife, providing help to women whose pregnancies have made them vulnerable within their families or communities. One day Maea's own pregnant daughter arrives at his doorstep, herself pregnant and badly beaten. Haunted by his violent past, Maea must decide whether to seek revenge for his daughter's treatment, or to follow a path of redemption.


Blending supernatural phenomenologies and a realist filmmaking approach, One Thousand Ropes is a finely-observed character portrait exploring the nuances of masculinity within New Zealand's marginalized Samoan community. Tusi Tamasese's second film premiered at Berlin, Stockholm, BFI London and Palm Springs. It was selected as the New Zealand entry for the Best Foreign Language Film at the 90th Academy Awards, but was not nominated.



"Childbirth becomes a powerful vessel for renewal in this deeply felt drama about a Samoan former fighter atoning for the violence that divided his family and exiled him to solitude… From Leon Narbey's composed camerawork with its minimal, graceful movement, to the pensive scoring of Tim Prebble, incorporating sounds of nature, this slow-moving film keeps its conflicts veiled, making the audience work to access the characters' inner lives. It combines melancholy domestic drama with spiritual and supernatural elements… a quiet power accumulates"

- David Rooney, Berlin Review, The Hollywood Reporter