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LOIMATA, The Sweetest Tears

Directed by Anna Marbrook

CW: sexual abuse, death

Samoan Lilo Ema Siope is six feet tall, has the strength of three men, and is one of the few women in the world who can captain and build ocean-going sailing canoes. Ema is dying. Now she must conjure up the powerful forces of leadership and spirituality that she harnessed in ocean voyages and use them to heal her family from the trauma of child sex abuse. Ema takes them on a road trip through their past, starting from the wintry New Zealand wilderness of Taihape in 1960, where her parents – once high chiefs and landowners – became housemaids and farmworkers.
They revisit their first family home in Auckland where all hopes were swamped in shame.

Ema navigates her family back to their mother’s Samoan birthplace Lalomanu where she was sent as a troubled teenager to be schooled in ancient ways. And on her father’s Apolima Island they find a real sense of “home” that has been missing from their displaced New Zealand lives.

With failing health, Ema has one final step – Loimata. If she frees the shame that began there, she could liberate her family forever.
A finely-crafted compassionate documentary strongly tied to Ema’s Samoan culture, this film is an intimate exploration of a family shattered by shame working courageously to liberate themselves from the shackles of the past. A journey of courage, tears, laughter and above all, unconditional love.

Directed by Anna Marbrook
Producted by Anna Marbrook and Jim Marbrook
Written by Anna Marbrook and Jim Marbrook

About the filmmaker: Anna Marbrook is an award winning director, her career spanning nearly 30 years working extensively across the Pacific region. She created and series directed the 10-part Waka Warriors and co-directed the feature documentary Te Mana o Te Moana, the Pacific Voyagers, winner of a silver world medal at the New York Film and TV awards. She created and series-directed Real Pasifik Season 1 and 2 for TVNZ – both finalists in the New York Film and TV awards. In 2018 Anna directed and co-created the ten day live event Waka Odyssey with Hoturoa Barclay-Kerr and Kasia Pol for the NZ Arts Festival, winning best Arts or Cultural Event 2018 at the National Events Awards and nominations for the Wellington City Award. For TV3’s Inside New Zealand she wrote and directed the one-hour documentary A Little Love Story. With Scottie Productions she directed Te Araroa Tales From The Trails, which was a finalist in the NZ Film and TV awards 2018. Anna directed over 150 episodes of serial drama Shortland Street.

LIVESTREAM Q&A for “The Density of Vā” on 11/13 at 6:20 P.M. EST followed by a LIVE Q&A for LOIMATA The Sweetest Tears at 6:30 P.M. EST.