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A diminutive farmer must find the courage to speak out after tragedy strikes his family in the stunningly beautiful debut by Tusi Tamasese, the first feature ever made in the Samoan language.
The first feature film ever made in the Samoan language, The Orator is a highly unique entry in the canon of First Peoples cinema: as Samoa has always been and remains an independent nation, the film has no dialogue with the colonial legacy that is the de facto basis of so much Indigenous art, literature and cinema. Saili (Faafiaula Sagote) is a dwarf who ekes out a living as a simple farmer in a remote village with his wife Vaaiga (Tausili Pushparaj) and Litia (Salamasina Mataia), her illegitimate teenage daughter. Mocked by his fellow villagers for his size and seemingly hopeless ambition to succeed his late father as village chief, the taciturn Saili finds that he must speak up for himself and his family when they are beset by a series of unfortunate events, and a genuine tragedy. Stunningly beautiful (the film was shot by Whale Rider cinematographer Leon Narbey), with a subtle but marvelously intricate narrative and featuring beguilingly fresh performances from a predominantly non-professional cast, The Orator is an exciting immersion in a land that has rarely been depicted on screen.