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Kiwi-Samoan filmmaker to release 'Hibiscus & Ruthless'

By Brendan Kelly - brendan.kelly@pmn.co.nz

Kiwi-Samoan writer and director Stallone Vaioaga-Ioasa is set to release his second feature film next month. 

Samoan woman Hibiscus and her palagi friend Ruth. Photo/ Youtube.

The new film, Hibiscus & Ruthless, tells the story of young Samoan woman Hibiscus, played by Suivai Pilisipi Autagavaia, and her palagi friend Ruth, played by Anna-Maree Thomas. 

The director, who found success with his debut film Three Wise Cousins, says the film was a crash course in Samoan culture for Thomas.

"We had a lot of great actors come through and Anna-Maree Thomas really encapsulated the core values of Ruth," he says.

"She had to work really hard because she grew up in Canterbury on a dairy farm. She only came up to Auckland about four years ago for drama school and never had any exposure to Pacific culture."

"So this film was really a big cultural learning experience for her and Suivai really took her under her wing."

Vaioaga-Ioasa released Three Wise Cousins independently and the film went on to gross more than $1 million in New Zealand and overseas.

He says his new work is more ambitious.

"Even though we're filming in New Zealand compared to Three Wise Cousins, where 80 per cent of the film took place in Samoa, it's even more difficult. There's more departments to take care of and a lot more people."

"Trying to build the world, even simple things like going to university - you need to fill a lecture theatre. As opposed to Three Wise you guys are in a plantation and that's all we need." 

Hibiscus and Ruthless is set for release on January 28.


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