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PAGO PAGO, American Samoa (April 24, 2000)---American Samoa's 100-year "love affair" with the United States is documented and permanently memorialized in a two-hour Hollywood documentary filmed in the territory.

A five-men Hollywood crew was expected to film 70-hours of footage with full cooperation and support of Governor Tauese Sunia. Two traditional chiefs coordinated the cultural activities and wrote the story for the project.

The primary storyline follows Samoan students attending college in the United States who return home for the first time in many years as special guests of the governor to participate in the ceremonies. In the process, they gain a more compelling appreciation of their rich and proud culture and its unique ties with the United States.

The documentary will highlight the 100-year-old "Deed of Cession" Treaty signed by American Samoa's most prominent chiefs on April 17, 1900.

Even more significant is the fact that the producer and director of the project are Samoans, who were born and raised in the village of Nu‘uuli.

Aloali‘i Palelei directs the documentary and Toloa‘i Joe Ho Ching is the producer.

The project is funded by the World Cultural Center Foundation of San Diego, California.

"The Centennial celebrations were already planned as a momentous week of celebrations when we finally put all the pieces together for our trip here," said Ching.

"The fact that Aloali‘i and I are able to tell this historical and momentous event from a Samoan perspective is the ultimate high," he said. "In the past we have had to rely on well meaning experts from outside to tell our story to the world. To be able to come home and have the full support of our traditional and political leaders and people is a great blessing. This is unlike any other film project ever undertaken in Samoa and they have backed us all the way."

Other members of the film crew include two Los Angeles-based directors of photography, Edward C. Bartel II and Reggie Turner. Bartel is noted for music video projects with Elton John, Quincy Jones, LeAnn Rimes, and Jennifer Love Hewitt. He also worked on other feature film productions.

Turner also worked with Bartel on numerous projects. He served a key role in helping to film Pope John Paul II's world tour in Mexico and the United States. They are supported by soundman Joseph Ho, who operates his own sound production studio in Honolulu.

The two-hour documentary is prep to be aired on either PBS or A&E. A 30-minute version will be shown at activities around the world sponsored by the World Cultural Centers Foundation (WCCF).

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