Berlinale: Programme

Film File

NATIVe - Indigenous Cinema

Va Tapuia

Sacred Spaces

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Samoan farmer Lui is grieving for his late wife and works tirelessly to be able to afford to tend to her grave. Malia sits by the sea watching her husband’s grave gradually wash away beneath the encroaching tide. When they meet, Lui believes he has found someone with whom he can share his experience of loss. In scenes depicting togetherness and solitude on Upolu island, director Tusi Tamasese unfolds a tender story of two bereaved spouses moving between the sacred spaces of honouring the past and letting go.

Tusi Tamasese

New Zealand 2009


15’ · Colour


Malae Lialia'i (Lui)
Lena Rivers (Malia)


Written and Directed by
Tusi Tamasese
Leon Narbey
Annie Collins
Sound Design
Tim Prebble
Production Design
Kirsty Cameron
Nathaniel Lees
Catherine Fitzgerald


Tusi Tamasese

Born in Samoa in 1975, he studied social sciences at the University of Waikato before graduating from the New Zealand Film & Television School. He went on to take a master’s in screenwriting at the International Institute of Modern Letters at Victoria University in Wellington where he now lives with his wife and three children. His film O Le Tulafale (The Orator) screened in the Berlinale’s NATIVe – A Journey into Indigenous Cinema programme in 2013; One Thousand Ropes premiered in Panorama in 2017.


2009 Va Tapuia (Sacred Spaces) 2011 O Le Tulafale (The Orator) 2013 Venice 70: Future Reloaded 2017 One Thousand Ropes; Panorama

Bio- & filmography as of Berlinale 2019

Produced by

Blueskin Films