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One Thousand Ropes

A male midwife must reconcile with his past in this supernatural Samoan drama.

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Credits

Dir-Scr Tusi Tamasese
Prod Catherine Fitzgerald
With Frankie Adams, Uelese Petaia, Beulah Koale
New Zealand
2017
98min
Sales Mongrel International

Samoan New Zealander Tusi Tamasese follows his distinctive debut The Orator with this quietly powerful film about a middle-aged male midwife. Maea’s (Uelese Petaia) healing hands knead the best dough at the local bakery and also bring comfort to pregnant women. But his simple, meditative existence is disturbed by an unwelcome intruder from the spirit world, whose otherworldly presence hints that Maea has not yet atoned for a violent past. When his daughter Ilisa (Frankie Adams) shows up, pregnant and on the run from an abusive relationship, Maea is thrown into turmoil. His macho fellow workers would be only too happy to see him resort to violence to set things right, but he has aspirations to break the cycle and help his daughter start her life anew. Tamasese’s understated naturalism makes no distinction between reality and the spiritual dimension, and Maea must connect with both in order to find redemption.

Clare Stewart

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