Tusi Tamasese spent 18 years in his native Samoa, before moving to New Zealand and completing a double major in film and political science. After shooting 2009 short film Va Tapuia in Samoa with private funding, he directed his debut feature The Orator / O Le Tulafale, which was made entirely in the Samoan language. This tale of an outsider in conflict with his community scored multiple honours at the 2011 Venice Film Festival. Tamasese followed it with New Zealand-set father and daughter drama One Thousand Ropes; the tale of family and redemption was invited to premiere at the 2017 Berlin Film Festival.
... I was interested in the image of a chief — an orator — in Samoa: to me an orator is tall, fearless and well-spoken. I wanted to see what happens when you strip that away, and I ended up with a small person as a metaphor. Tusi Tamasese on The Orator, in a 2011 interview with website Nisimazine.eu