Samoa's turn on silver screen delights a local audience

Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw premiered before a delighted audience at the Apollo Cinema on Thursday night and drew cheers from a crowd of moviegoers delighted to see a feature film almost half set in Samoa.

Even the first mention of “Samoa” by Seiuli’s on-screen daughter had some of the crowd at the 8 pm session standing on their feet, excited by their nation's mention on the silver screen. 

But the film's Samoan elements go much deeper than that.

Seiuli and two fellow Polynesian co-stars perform the Siva Tau and pay tribute to God and their ancestors at a pivotal plot point, shortly before leading his family into battle against a spaceship. 

According to Apollo employers, cinema goers queued for much of the day to secure tickets for the evening showing of the film.

Apollo's manager Simon Kenjington said that while Seiuli’s films typically open to sell-out crowds, this picture's heavy use of Samoan culture and language made for an especially lively opening night. 

“It’s exciting to see this, having people excited and keen to watch this and showing big support for this movie," he said. 

Movie goer Atoaga Talituli said her favourite part about Seiuli is instilling his Samoan culture almost everywhere he goes.

“It’s a different feeling when the Samoan culture is portrayed in our own Samoan films made here in Samoa and when its’ actually on Hollywood level,” she said.

“I’m so proud to be able to be born a Samoan and witnessing what Seiuli has been doing [in Hollywood] in promoting our country and culture is just beautiful. 

"I’m just super excited.”

A New Zealand-based Samoan, Falaniko Collins, who is in Samoa for a vacation said Hobbs and Shaw made him excited about his roots. 

“When Seiuli said in the film that he’s going back to Samoa, it was so emotional for me because it’s been ages since I have come to Samoa and Seiuli combining with his Samoan family was inspirational".

The film sees Seiuli's character (law enforcement official Hobbs) sent back to his home country of Samoa after 25 years away. His character joins his brothers in the family business, a car repair shop that has recently gone upmarket. 

According to Apollo employers, cinema goers queued for much of the day to secure tickets for the evening showing of the film.

The movie's traditional Samoan scenes were designed with input from consultants to ensure they were authentic and respectful, Seiuli told the Los Angeles Times in an interview last week ahead of the movie premiere. 

Seiuli said the scenes inspired a particularly strong reaction from his mother, Ata, who was moved to tears: "She’s never heard me speak in Samoan to that extent."

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