(GATINEAU, QUEBEC, Canada) — The Sulu'ape family and the Samoan art of Tatau are featured in the Skindigenous television series airing in Canada and Nish Media, the show's producers, are working to bring it to a wider audience.
"At the moment, the series is airing on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network (APTN) in Canada only," Skindigenous Director Jean-François Martel told tautalatala from Quebec. "However, we are working to ensure that people in other countries can watch the show."
Tautalatala contacted Nish Media after it received inquiries about Skindigenous from Samoans in the northwestern United States.
Skindigenous is a documentary series exploring indigenous tattooing traditions around the world.
"Obviously, any show treating this subject would be incomplete if it didn't feature at least one episode on the traditions of Polynesia," Martel said. "So getting to Samoa to explore the art of tatau was a priority for us."
Martel and the Nish Media crew spent five days on Upolu in April of 2017, following Master Tattooists Su'a Peter Sulu'ape and his father Su'a Petelo Sulu'ape, as they worked on several clients.
"Our goal was to capture the creation of a pe'a, and we were successful. I only wish we could have stayed longer to attend the finishing ceremony," said Martel.
"My impressions of Samoa are that it is a kind of earthly paradise. I know that's cliché but there's really no other way to describe it. The islands, the art, and most importantly the people hold a very special place in my heart. Suffice it to say, I absolutely loved the experience — the whole crew did. The Sulu'apes were patient and welcoming, and they went out of their way to make sure we got great content."
Martel and the crew are thinking of ways to visit the earthly paradise called Samoa again.
"To be honest, I've spent a good deal of my time since leaving, thinking of ways to go back to Samoa," the director said. "Other crew members have told me the same thing. I would jump at the chance to learn more about this beautiful land and the incredible art form that it gave birth to."