New Zealand feature film The Orator (O Le Tulafale) has been selected to premiere in competition in the Orizzonti (New Horizons) section of the 68th Venice International Film Festival.

Founded in 1932, the Venice Film Festival is one of world's the oldest and most prestigious film festivals, and is part of the Venice Biennale.

New Zealand Film Commission chief executive Graeme Mason said The Orator's selection was outstanding and an important endorsement of New Zealand as a significant and relevant part of the global film industry.

"To have a film from New Zealand selected to compete against feature films by industry greats like Jonathan Demme, and for that film to also premiere alongside new works by world renowned directors, is an incredible honour," he said today.


Written and directed by debut feature film-maker Tusi Tamasese, The Orator's selection will place Tamasese in an illustrious group of New Zealand filmmakers - including Sir Peter Jackson and Jane Campion - whose films have screened at the Venice festival.

Filmed entirely on the island of Upolu, Samoa, and in the Samoan language, The Orator is a contemporary drama about courage, forgiveness and love. It tells the story of Saili who lives a simple, humble life with his beloved wife and daughter in an isolated, traditional village. Forced to protect his land and family, Saili must overcome his fears and find the courage to speak up for those he loves.

Produced by Catherine Fitzgerald with associate producers Maiava Nathaniel Lees and Michael Eldred, the film was shot by cinematographer Leon Narbey.

Tamasese and Fitzgerald will attend the premiere of The Orator with the assistance of the commission and the festival, which runs from August 31 to September 10.