9 March 2020
Brisbane, AUSTRALIA: A sold out cinema, ngatu carpet, dancing and a traditional Tongan string band were just some of the features that saw Brizvegas launch the premiere of the long-awaited Tongan film “The Legend of Baron To‘a”.
Polywood stars Talia‘uli Lātūkefu and Sione Tui were amongst the cast and crew who lined the ngatu carpet at Event Cinemas Browns Plains as the Brisbane Tongan Community launched the newest Tongan film to hit Australian cinemas with cheers and fanfare.
After a short ceremony, including a blessing and speeches led by Tongan-Australian actor Inez Fainga‘a Manu-Sione, a traditional tau‘olunga performance set the mood for this heroic film that captures the importance of family, identity, honour and oneself.
According to NZ On Screen, the film has been dubbed “The Karate Kid meets South Auckland” when Fritz (played by Australian-Tongan actor ‘Uli Lātūkefu) learns the warrior ways of his father, so he can secure the return of his family’s treasured pro-wrestling title belt from local gangsters.
The action/comedy boasts a stellar Pasifika/Māori cast, including Jay Laga‘aia and Shavaughn Ruakere.
“Bringing Pacific stories to the big screen is fantastic, even more so when the storyline features a Tongan family experiencing grief and loss as well as victory and pride, all of which resonated with our Brisbane Tongan Community,” Public Officer Mr Sulieni Layt commented.
“The Brisbane Tongan Community remain committed to advocating for more films from our Pacific film industry and to see the ‘Polywood’ scene further develop,” he added.
Throughout the screening the audience continued to cheer and applaud, which was testimony to its success. At times actors ‘Uli Lātūkefu and Sione Tui became emotional and overwhelmed by the crowd of Brisbane supporters.
The Legend of Baron To‘a marks the first feature from director Kiel McNaughton, whose credits include Auckland Daze and Find Me a Māori Bride.
McNaughton also produced acclaimed films Waru and Vai with his wife Kerry Warkia.
Media Contact: Sulieni Layt via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or mobile on +61(0) 420 639 764.