Hibiscus & Ruthless film hits NZ cinemas

By Regan Paranihi

The Pasifika and Aotearoa comedy film Hibiscus & Ruthless will screen at 20 cinemas across the country as of today.

The film follows 23-year-old Hibiscus, who’s in her final year of university.  Her mother is strict, and Hibiscus' respect for her is put to the test. She calls on her childhood friend Ruth aka Ruthless to help keep her in line, especially as her male counterparts are out to impress her. 

Writer/Director Stallone Vaiaoga-loasa says family life and dynamics was his drive to make the film.

“The key is basically to get that education, get that good job and get that money. I was looking at the foundations of what that is and how you can achieve that and finding a way I could tell that particular story in a cinematic way.”

This is Stallone's second self-funded film and he hopes it will be more popular than his award-winning film Three Wise Cousins

He says, “Being self-funded, I think the biggest benefit is it's all on me and my team. We can decide how fast or how slow or basically what we can do, we are not answering to anyone else.”

Stallone says family, and genuinely wanting to succeed in life is a universal theme he wanted to emphasise.

“When you put it [the idea] on paper for the first time before you hear any of this, before you even see the trailer, if it was just on paper I don’t think many people would have backed it. Just because it just doesn’t lend itself to the silver screen. It doesn’t say let’s make a movie out of it.

But I could see it and I guess being self-funded, that’s the freedom you have to really pursue something you believe in.”

Stallone's advice to up-and-coming writers and filmmakers is to know your audience.

“You need to be able to stand in the middle of town and point to who is going to come and see your film and who could potentially like it.”

Hibiscus & Ruthless will screen in Australia in February. It will also screen in the Pacific at a later date, before it hits cinemas in the United States near the end of the year.

The list of cinemas screening the film can be found on the Hibiscus and Ruthless Facebook page.