After months of perfecting, the makers of feature film Stranded Pearl are ready to release the Cook Islands shot and produced movie, set to premiere at the Empire Cinema on Thursday next week.
The movie, starring Anand Naidu, a Rarotonga
resident and the film’s producer, held an exclusive world premiere for sponsors
and invited guests at the Empire Cinema in February.
movie was well received, but Naidu knew it wasn’t the product he wanted wider
audiences to see.
production team went to work and, after nine months of meticulous effort, which
included Naidu making eight to ten trips to New Zealand, they finally have a
product they want to share with the world.
private screening was primarily to get all of the sponsors to see the movie and
get a sense of what we would be releasing. We anticipated some feedback and
comments, and they came, and we used the suggestions to create this product.
(premiere in February) wasn’t the final product, but it should have been close
to the final movie. It was 75 per cent complete, which meant we had to go back
and re-edit the music and sound, including the 5.1 surround sound. We had to
ensure that the music director provided music for each character, that each
character had transition scenes, and that the sound, effects, and everything
else made sense, so that the audience would be engaged in the transitions from
shot to shot.”
took them about three months to get the music and sound effects right before
they started working on the colour grading.
colour was all over the place, flashed out as too bright, so what we had to do
was grade it to the right level. There were shots in the film which were at
lower grade, we replaced it with higher grade shots, especially the
scenes, such as the fictional portrayal of the Cook Islands as a habitat for
crocodiles and snakes, had to be removed and/or replaced.
says those scenes were not approved by him, but were instead put in by the
director as a creative element.
had to go back and debate that and bring the right footage. It was more like
placeholders; you want something more that could create interest like owls being
replaced by lorikeets in the forest scene so that it links back to the island …
the snakes and crocodiles have been taken out to give the movie a more
really wanted to make sure Cook Islands is represented well and we really
brought that element of Cook Islands in the final product.”
the breathtaking backdrop of Rarotonga, Stranded Pearl is a tale of drama,
action, and comedy that follows a woman, played by Australian actress Kristy
Wright of Home and Away fame, who discovers that her life is not all she
thought it to be. When she finds herself stranded on a deserted island with a
reclusive deckhand (Naidu), she is forced to confront the reality of her life
and the love she thought she knew. Naidu, of Vindaloo Empire (2011) and Feeling
Lucky (2016) fame, plays a character who has closed himself off from the world
to hide from the pain of his past.
The 91-minute film boasts an impressive cast,
including Cook Islander Stan Wolfgramm as a journalist and activist, veteran
Kiwi actor Rawiri Paratene, Ray Woolf, one of New Zealand’s most celebrated
entertainers, Aleisha Rose, Robert Reitano and Jagdish Punja.
Naidu says around 40 Cook Islanders worked on the
production sets during the filming, which commenced in 2017 under director Ken
“We had Papatua Papatua handle all the artwork and
production designs,” Naidu explains. “He’s been working behind the scenes and
has done an incredible job of showcasing the real Cook Islands on screen.”
“We also had Vaine (Koteka), who did all the costume
designs, makeup, props, and all the little creative touches, in addition to
playing a role in the film. Then there’s (journalist) Tiana Haxton, who
portrays a reporter in the movie. We had a sizable Cook Islands crew, with
around 40 people involved in the production.”
Naidu initially attempted to collaborate with Tereora
College to secure some trained actors from their drama class when filming
the end I brought some New Zealand and Australia actors to help market the film
to the world.”
Naidu, the chief financial officer at Air Rarotonga
and co-founder of Mahayana Films, the production company behind Stranded Pearl,
previously stated that the film’s production value was around $1 million.
He personally invested around $250,000 of his family’s
savings in the film “because I believed in the concept”.
“Coming from a finance background, I understand that
there will be returns, but I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have the support
of some amazing sponsors, such as Edgewater Resort and Air Rarotonga, who have
both made significant contributions. CITC looked after all of our crew and
cast, and Cook Islands News provided us with coverage. We also had CITV and
88FM provide coverage, and we had brand value sponsors from New Zealand. We’ve
had so many sponsors who have supported us along the way.
“I can’t thank Prime Minister Mark Brown and Ben Ponia
enough for their unwavering support in helping us bring this project to
fruition. I also want to express my gratitude to Cook Islands Pearl, BTIB, and
everyone else who has stood behind this project. I know they’ve been waiting
patiently, but I assure them that they will get an amazing product when they
that Stranded Pearl tackles issues that resonate deeply with Cook Islanders,
particularly the subject of conservation, which serves as a central theme of
Islands is a character, it’s the most important part of the film. In the film
we talk about a couple of things, like how important climate change and
conservation of this place is for Cook Islanders.
is the essence of the film. To truly experience love, one must immerse
themselves in nature, escape the daily grind, and develop a connection with the
natural world. Only then can one fully embrace love and appreciate the richness
Naidu is confident that Stranded Pearl will capture
the essence of the Cook Islands, asserting that “when it reaches the global
audience, everyone will be talking about the Cook Islands”.
“It complements our efforts to showcase the region to
Naidu, who received permanent residency last year
after relocating to Rarotonga in 2011, considers the film a tribute to the
country he now calls home.
“I was born in Fiji and resided there until I was
around 13 years old. My life in Fiji was idyllic; I was immersed in the island
lifestyle and nature until the 1987 coup forced my family’s migration to New
Zealand,” he recounts.
“I’ve always had a strong connection to the islands,
and I’ve always felt at home there. Approximately 12 years ago, I was given the
opportunity to come here and work.
“My children have spent their entire lives here; my
eldest is 13, and they are Cook Islanders through and through. My boys never
considered themselves anything other than Cook Islanders until they realised
they were Fiji Indians and Bhutanese, as my wife is Bhutanese.
“I share that sentiment. This film is my homage to the
nation I feel so strongly about being a part of. This is my way of expressing
my gratitude to the Cook Islands and its people for all that they have given
The film will be screened for two weeks at the Empire
Cinema, and Naidu intends to distribute it to New Zealand and Fiji before
promoting it globally.
me, success would be Cook Islanders anywhere in the world saying, ‘Have you
seen Stranded Pearl? That’s our film’. I hope this movie becomes a part of the
local library and culture, and that when people mention Stranded Pearl, they
can feel a connection to it and call it their own. That would be a proud moment
for me and my biggest achievement.”