Samoan residents mark film anniversary
The 61st anniversary premiere of the Hollywood film 'Return to Paradise' will be held in May 2015 at the legendary beach in Lefaga village where it was filmed.
After more than 60 years since the Hollywood film which brought international recognition to Samoa, was released, residents are preparing to host its 61st anniversary premiere in the village of Lefaga.
The legendary beach in Lefaga now hosts a resort named after the film 'Return to Paradise' and it will welcome the return of the film's female lead, Roberta Haynes, at the premiere.
Indira Moala reports.
The film was unique because it was the first time Hollywood gave speaking roles to native actors. A director from the Return to Paradise resort says there are still locals around who were present when the movie was filmed in 1953. Ramona Su'a Pale Gilchrist says among those excited about the anniversary include surviving cast members still living in Lefaga.
RAMONA SU'A PALE GILCHRIST: A lot of the older people who are alive remember what happened around about that time. And so they're all very excited about Roberta Haynes coming back. And six of the surviving cast members have expressed their commitment to be part of this occasion. I'm not sure if she knows whether they're going to be there but they are all going to be attending.
The premiere will also assist in raising funds for local charity Marist Trust which assists people with severe spinal injuries in Samoa and other parts of the Pacific. Ms Haynes has offered to donate the traditional lavalava costume she wore in the movie to be auctioned at a gala dinner. Its chairperson Tagaloa Su'a says the trust is excited to be connected with the premiere.
TAGALOA SU'A: A lot of history in the movie and a lot of positive outcomes from it. I believe it opens other opportunities for people thinking outside the square that there's potential in our local actors and local actresses. We're utilizing this opportunity of - it's good for Samoa tourism, bringing one the main actress in the movie back home to Samoa after how many years. And you know, it was a good fit to have the gala dinner.
Among the Samoans in the cast, the role of the main chief, Tonga, went to local leader, Mamea Matatumua Ata who helped frame Samoa's first constitution. His daughter Fetauimalemau later helped lead the independence movement alongside her husband Mataafa who became Samoa's first Prime Minister. Ms Su'a Pale Gilchrist says the event will have huge significance to the village locals.
RAMONA SU'A PALE GILCHRIST: The people from this village are very proud of this resort, they're very proud of this movie. They'll looking forward to this time because Roberta Haynes and Gary Cooper - it's quite emotional for Samoa. It's just that they have taken 'Return to Paradise' - it's not just heard of here, but it's out there because of this movie and this will kind of revive that again - that movie in the 50's. So we're all very excited. We know that it's good for Samoa. It's good for this village, it's good for Samoa and it's good for the Pacific.
The 61st anniversary premiere weekend will begin on Friday, May the 15th at the Return to Paradise resort in Lefaga.
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