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LEA TUPU'ANGA
MOTHER TONGUE

A young speech therapist disconnected from her Tongan heritage lies about her Tongan language skills to get a job. Out of her depth, she must find a way to communicate or risk her patient’s life.

Katherine, a young speech therapist of Tongan and European heritage has lied about her Tongan language skills to work with Siaosi – an elderly Tongan patient with aphasia who has lost his ability to speak English.

 

Siaosi resents Katherine’s presence and is resistant to her speech therapy sessions. Anxious for progress, Katherine enlists her Tongan boyfriend Maka to translate. During this exchange, Katherine unwittingly offends Siaosi, who sternly tells them to exit – jeopardising her work and causing tension with Maka. Katherine is left feeling disconnected and insecure about her identity.

 

Under pressure to complete her report, Katherine returns to Siaosi’s house. When Siaosi catches Katherine trespassing on his property, he berates her and Katherine breaks down in tears. Katherine’s vulnerability catches Siaosi off-guard and an amusing miscommunication leads to a heart-warming moment. 

 

Katherine bonds with Siaosi and just as they start to make progress in their speech therapy, Siaosi suffers a medical emergency. Panicking and out of her depth, Katherine must find a way to communicate with her patient, or risk Siaosi’s life and have her professional mistruth revealed.

Genre: Drama (Short)

Released: January 2024

Aspect Ratio: 2:1 (Colour)

Language: English, Tongan (with English subtitles)

Duration: 16:41

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Director: Vea Mafile'o

Writer: Luciane Buchanan

Producers: Alex Lovell & Eldon Booth

Executive Producer: Frankie Adams

Cinematography: Maria Ines Manchego

Art Director: Emily Mafile’o

Editors: Lisa Greenfield & Anastasia Doniants

Composer: Stephen Gallagher

Costume Designer: Frankie Lolohea

Made in association with the New Zealand Film Commission and Script to Screen

Featuring:

Luciane Buchanan

Albert Rounds

Mikey Falesiu

Michael Koloi

Elizabeth Thomson

Awards:

Nominee Short Film Grand Jury Prize, Sundance Film Festival (2024)

People's Choice for Best Short Drama, Māoriland Film Festival (2024)

Special Jury Mention Narrative Short, VC Film Fest (2024)

Finalist for First Nations Award, Sydney Film Festival (2024)

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CONTACT INFORMATION

Run Charlie Films Limited.

Phone: +64 21 645 582

Email: alex@runcharliefilms.com

Visit: 300 Queen Street, Auckland 1010

Postal: PO Box 90936 Victoria St West, Auckland 1142

© 2024 RUN CHARLIE FILMS LIMITED

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