Film Review: “In Football We Trust” (2015)- Samoans in the NFL


(Photo from their Official site please follow the link to read more.)
Country: USA | American Samoa
Release Date: 23 January 2015
Filming Locations: Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, America Samoa

Directors: Tony Vainuku, Erika Cohn

Description: “In Football We Trust” captures a snapshot in time amid the rise of the Pacific Islander presence in the NFL. Presenting a new take on the American immigrant story, this feature length documentary transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah. With unprecedented access and shot over a four-year time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through American football. Viewed as the “salvation” for their families, these young players reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting and rigors of societal expectations. Written by In Football We Trust


“Family means a lot to Polynesian cultures, but sometimes family can feel like a blessing and a curse. Especially under these circumstances, with so much at stake for adolescents still prone to mistakes in judgment, who may make bad choices but have so much hope and responsibility on their shoulders.

I’ve not been an American football watcher for well over a decade, though I used to follow it closely. I listed away because it began to feel so contrived, just about the money, about team names, not the individuals. Or rather too much about the individual: the showboating, the attitudes and self-entitlement. Although it’s unlikely I’ll ever go back to actively watching, this film inspired me to again selectively follow the careers of some players because it highlighted their drive, desire, and love for the game, their determination to succeed not just for themselves, but to support their communities. It also showed how the pressure to succeed, both from schools, teams and their families, can bring push them to breaking point.

The four players have great support from their Islander roots, mothers strongly backing their sons, especially in that most of them have come from very humble, even desperate conditions: gang violence, personal losses. Families didn’t have money to see their sons play, but traded work for tickets, cleaning up whole stadiums each week. “We don’t have the money,” one mother said, “but we have the heart.”

The film touches on several subjects interrelated to life as a football player of Pacific Islander descent such as interracial dating, differences of religious beliefs and wanting to move beyond them. Others are the challenges of finally getting money above just survival level and how to navigate the colleges and leagues were exploitation can be an issue. It was filmed over four years, progressively showing how the four players improve, change, in possible good or bad ways, and their motivations, desires, fears, angers, and what is most important to them: Family.

In a straightforward way, “In Football We Trust” shows how complicated life can be, especially as immigrants from a very different culture coming to live in communities radically different than their back home just to play football. Stereotyping, culture clash, the pressure to win at any cost, not just for themselves but for their families can at times be overwhelming and occasionally, hopefully rewarding. A solid documentary for those interested in the culture and topic.” (Also posted at my IMBb Profile.)

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1 Comment

Filed under Documentary, Films, Non-Fiction, Reviews

One response to “Film Review: “In Football We Trust” (2015)- Samoans in the NFL

  1. Reblogged this on Songs of the Universal Vagabond and commented:

    Screening now at the Pacifica Film Festival and many others around the world, a documentary we reviewed last year that shares the stories of Pacific Islanders making their way into the NFL…and at what cost.

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