Country Always

Country Always

Caring for Country

A Corner of the Empire

A Corner of the Empire

The Garden Palace

The Holding Pen

The Holding Pen

The Agricultural Hall

Regional Networks

Regional Networks

Across New South Wales

A Museum of Doing

A Museum of Doing

Technological Museum

Transforming the Tramsheds

Transforming the Tramsheds

Powerhouse Stage 1 and the Harwood Building

A Symbol in Time

A Symbol in Time

Sydney Observatory

Ongoing Transformations

Ongoing Transformations

Powerhouse Ultimo

Applied Arts and Sciences

Applied Arts and Sciences

Defining the terms in the 21st century

Powerhouse Renewal

Powerhouse Renewal

Bringing Sāmoan Tales to the Table

Bringing Sāmoan Tales to the Table

In the Room, a Co-Curious x Powerhouse Initiative

Sydney Science Festival

Sydney Science Festival

Across Sydney10—17 Aug
Exoskeleton

Exoskeleton

Powerhouse Parramatta

Blak Powerhouse

Blak Powerhouse

Powerhouse x We Are Warriors

Slider thumb2024
Stories

Bringing Sāmoan Tales to the Table

In the Room, a Co-Curious x Powerhouse Initiative
Interview with Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu by Michael Fitzgerald. Photography by Magnolia Minton Sparke

One of five Western Sydney creatives selected for In the Room, Sāmoan writer and filmmaker Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu brings cultural nuance and Pasifika storytelling to a special film collaboration between Co-Curious and Powerhouse.

Writing can be a very lonely thing. But because my stories come from the lived experiences of my community, they are with me in every step of my writing process. Therefore, I am never truly alone when I write.
Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu

In the 2021 pilot for a planned web series called Breaking Bread, three generations of a Sāmoan/Australian family gather at the table, passing around stories and a plate of povi masima, or salted beef. As they sample the Sāmoan delicacy, hesitantly at first and then with gusto, the tales grow wilder and darker: how povi masima was used to brush teeth, wash dishes and clean undies; how its pale pink colour resembles human flesh; how in the early days of colonisation, it was mistakenly fed to the missionaries to prevent cannibalism and the disappearance of Sāmoans. ‘Our people were mysteriously vanishing,’ says Sina, sharing her grandmother’s story in Breaking Bread. ‘Sāmoa had ceased to exist.’ The episode ends with Sina exacting her own macabre revenge on the colonisers, while also expressing a traditional form of Sāmoan storytelling, fāgogo, for future generations.

‘A fāgogo is dictated by the storyteller and I’ve always known them to be quite dark,’ says Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu, the Western Sydney-based Sāmoan creative from Aotearoa/New Zealand who wrote, directed and produced the Breaking Bread pilot that premiered at the Pasifika Film Festival in late 2020. ‘It is very performative and over the years commonly includes pese (song) and siva (dance) ... Pacific storytelling doesn’t fall into that typical three-act structure. Our stories are a bit more circular.’

Breaking Bread, which grew out of Faatau’uu-Satiu’s Master in Creative Practice from Unitec’s School of Creative Industries in Auckland, is a mission statement for this Pasifika writer and filmmaker who has called Western Sydney home since 2019. Satiu Studios, which is an independent production company he launched in 2020, is where he collaborates with his community to amplify Pasifika voices and stories. A few of his creative endeavours include a 2022 children’s book, Where I’m From, and a 2024 exhibition, One Ocean, Many Waves. The latter featured a pan-Pacific cohort of 35 creatives from as young as nine to a veteran in their fifties. The exhibition was a video installation: a mashup of documentary-style interviews met with spoken word poetry, traditional and contemporary dance, song, rap, voguing and a textiles display. ‘I wanted to create a work that is reflective of the Pacific community in Sydney and celebrate how vastly different we are,’ says Faatau’uu-Satiu. ‘In existence, the Pacific is made up of roughly 30 individual Pacific nations, however there is a misconception that we all speak the same language, share similar origin stories and customs and traditions, which is incorrect.’

Person stand in front of a blue door, with their hands in their pocket.

The many threads of his creative practice are now being harnessed for In the Room. In 2023, Faatau’uu-Satiu was one of five Western Sydney storytellers selected for this collaboration between Powerhouse and Co-Curious to write a feature film that will premiere at Powerhouse Parramatta in 2025. Seeing Co-Curious’ acclaimed film anthology Here Out West (2021) prompted his participation. ‘There is a negative stigma associated with Western Sydney,’ says Faatau’uu-Satiu. ‘So, to see positive stories of people, particularly about people of colour, and seeing them linked together – I was really moved by that because it’s my experience of this place I call home. And although I loved seeing Here Out West, I was disappointed to not see a Pacific person in it.’

Over the past year, Faatau’uu-Satiu has been working with his In the Room cohorts to make space for Pasifika perspectives in their collaborative screenplay: ‘the inflections, all the different nuances – even if it’s the way a character looks at somebody, in a very small moment,’ he says. For this, Faatau’uu-Satiu is inspired by the Pasifika pioneers who have come before him – writers such as Tusiata Avia and Albert Wendt, and filmmakers like Sima Urale and Taika Waititi: ‘Representation and feeling seen on a surface level is one thing,’ he says. ‘But there is a richness and nuance that comes from stories written by those of the lived experience.’ With In the Room, he’ll be bringing these cultural inflections and the more circular stories of the Pacific to the filmmaking table.

About

In the Room is a project partnership between Powerhouse and Co-Curious, inviting five Western Sydney creatives to collaborate on a major feature film commission to premiere at Powerhouse Parramatta and to be acquired into the Powerhouse Collection. The participants of In the Room are James Elazzi, Gabriel Faatau’uu-Satiu, Andrew Undi Lee, Randa Sayed and Danielle Stamoulos.

More

The Powerhouse acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of the ancestral homelands upon which our museums are situated. We respect their Elders, past, present and future and recognise their continuous connection to Country.

CONTINUEInternal link