Movie unites youth

By Mathias Huckert 15 May 2016, 12:00AM

Sometimes a simple idea brings joy to many lives. 

Reverend Ruperake Petaia had such an idea. In his community, the village of Malua, the Reverend had witnessed a trend that spread among the younger community members. 

“Part of our work here, especially during Sunday school, includes the rehearsal and performance of short plays, and what I noticed was that most of the people have their own phones, with which they are capable of recording videos. And that’s what the children did, they recorded our short plays,” Rev. Petaia told the Sunday Samoan.

When he saw all these recordings, he got an idea that would bring the youth of the community closer together. During a visit in New Zealand, the Reverend saw something that let this idea grow in his mind: a camera. 

“I thought, I want that camera for our community. With the help of my daughter, I could purchase it. We started using it in our youth group, but after another visit in New Zealand, I brought with me another camera. Now we had two cameras and that made me think: What can we achieve with these two cameras?”

The answer was simple. Reverend Ruperake Petaia had already written a script of approximately twenty pages for what would later become a short movie, called “O le Satauro Mamana” (The Wondrous Cross). 

The script’s plot transfers one of the New Testament’s most substantial stories into the Samoa of today.  “It is the crucifixion of Jesus, but of course it is fictional and therefore it is also a story in itself that revolves around a blind woman with two children. A poor family whose own history is blended with Christ’s story.”

Asked about the drive behind the special story, Reverend Ruperake Petaia delivered a more than descriptive answer. 

“If Jesus is surrounding us everywhere, why can’t we imagine that his own story happens in the time of today?” After having prepared his story as an actual screenplay, the Reverend was ready to make a movie out of it.

There was just one difficulty: he did not know how to handle the technical aspects of film-making. But he knew a man that did. His name is Antone Simanu, a musician that had helped the choir of the community one year ago to produce their very own recording. 

“I knew Antone as a very talented pianist, but I was also aware that he is qualified to work with electronics and computers. I talked to him, and then we did it.”

So the two sat together and planned their project. A project that included several weeks of filming, all done in Malua with more than twenty actors, consisting of the community’s youth and some students of N.U.S. 

“It was a really entertaining process, because it turned out that acting in front of a camera is completely different from acting on stage. That’s why I had to remind our actors to keep a certain expression of seriousness when the scene required it. For some, it was a challenge not to burst into laughter, so we all enjoyed the filming”.

But the filming also included difficulties which had to be mastered, especially from the technical point of view, as Anetone Simanu, the movie’s producer explained. 

“Sometimes we had to delay filming, for instance when it was too dark to shoot, or when some of the actors did not have the time to be present on set,” he said. 

“But of course we had to face limitations concerning the movie’s post processing. I was able to use my old computer and the software, we also have some scenes which included the use of a green screen.”

With the project being the first of its kind done in the region, the producer who recently started his own business, A.P.S Sounddesigns and Media, is more than satisfied. 

“This was really a first attempt for everybody involved, but I think we all can be proud of it”.

So proud, that after a first private screening, the official premiere of “O le Satauro Mamana” is planned for the coming Monday, at the Fono tele at Malua. 

“Movies are a worldwide phenomenon with which everybody can identify himself,” Rev. Petaia said.  

“We notice that some of the members in our community somehow adapt a certain idleness when they drop out of school and don’t get employment. With this project, we were able to give them something to keep busy, but also to be proud of, especially when the movie will be shown at the premiere.”

By Mathias Huckert 15 May 2016, 12:00AM

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