In Football We Trust-Film Review

3 years ago

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In celebration of the 1st Tongan film included at Sundance Film Festival we thought this would be a great time to add a space for Pacific Islanders to share views on movies they have seen. 

How does the movie speak to you,? how does it make you feel? How does it align with our traditional cultures?

Please email your reviews to

In celebration of the 1st Tongan film in Sundance Film Festival is our 1st movie review with more to come.

This review is of of Tony Vaenuku's film, "In Football We Trust" by Radio Show Host, Rita Love aka Margarita Satini.


Last night I had the pleasure of being a part of the first screening of the movie "In Football We Trust..." It was an amazing turnout. What's not to love about a movie based on FOOTBALL, FAMILY, AND PACIFIC ISLANDERS? The air was defniitely electrifying, the who's who of the Local Salt Lake Community was in attendance and everyone was just excited to finally get the opportunity to view the very talked about documentary about the role football plays in the lives of the every day Pacific Islander family. That being said, I hope that my review comes across as honest, and thought provoking..

so here goes:

It takes a certain kind of someone to be able to not completely throw caution to the wind, maintain balance between culture expectations, traditions, and still maintain his authentic independence in telling his/her truth. This movie follows the high school careers of 4 young Tongan student athletes, two of which are brothers and the other two unrelated to each other and/or the rest. In this movie Tony Vainuku details out the four important key elements that is shouldered by these young athletes "Football, Faith, Individual Identity, and Family" 


Just a little summary on Pacific Islander families and our view on social perspective, When Pacific Islanders are tasked with the responsibilities of showing face whether at weddings, funerals, birthdays, religious occassions, we do are very best to display a VERY united front, that we have our shit together, that we are a force to be reckoned with. Although you may have heard that a few of the individuals in our family have had bad run ins either with the law, other Polynesian families, at school, etc etc, as a group, we hope that the stance of our majority will far outweigh the sins of the individual

The Four Young Student Athletes:

Fihi Kaufusi:

Fihi's story touched on one of Religion, interracial relationships, and growing up in a single parent home. In this movie he is seen with his Palangi (white) girlfriend and states that his mother does NOT want to see him having a girlfriend, let alone a white one. Interacial relationships is probably one of the top 5 Polynesian mother's biggest fears. Although there wasn't a whole lot of focus but a mere glimpse of Fihi's relationship, trust me, it had all of us Polynesian mothers thinking long and hard. LOL Fihi was completely honest about his feelings about his absentee father, his love for his aunty turned mother and being raised in a very religious home. Now this is my very OWN opinion but religion can be both a blessing and burdening (back, back you religious zealots lol) and I say this because many of our youth, especially our student athletes our faced with the question of Do I prepare to serve a two year mission OR do I stay and focus on my football - many of these student athletes parents, if they stay honest with themselves question the very same thing as well, and even more so when they have a son who is an excellent, phenomenal athlete with the potential to start in college, and eventually graduate into Football Zion: The NFL. Fihi, like many of our passionate footbal players suffers an injury and tries to play past the pain because WHY? Because FOOTBALL is the goal, our possible MEAL TICKET out, our financial ZION... 


Harvey Langi: 

Harvey's story definitely reminded me of my own in the fact that his story touches on his obligation to his family, his very strong and very outspoken mother (just like me), and being one of Utah's TOP recruit. His name was EVERYWHERE and he was being pressured with the thoughts of being his families financial saving grace, and basically being in a position of being able to take care of his family. Harvey is not alone in this, his family is not alone this. I've had the very same desires, thoughts when it came to my own boys. I basically set myself up for disappointment. I'm not saying that his family has been disappointed. I am excited at the prospect of Harvey making it to the big league, I'm just saying that we, as Pacific Islander parents with athletic sons, neglect to realize the pressures that we put on our own children to SUCCEED when it comes to football and at ALL COST. The movie does an excellent job of capturing the pressures that Harvey feels, and we can't help but feel his pain in wanting to be everything that his family expects him to be. He's had to fight his own set of controversy.. his drug use, his battle on the field both physically and internally, and his constant war between wanting to find his own identity, and wanting to take care of his family. 


Leva & Vita Bloomfield:

I feel that the story behind these two brothers was unadulterated, unapologetically RAW. Although I cringed at the news report & clippings of Leva's troubled past being revisited again in this film, and as much as my "Polynesian Self" wanted to yell "why the hell Tony, did you have to show the WHITE folks this part of our youth" my other self new it was a reality and needed to be expressed to the world that these are REAL problems, REAL issues that a lot of our polynesian families deal with. I hated it... and I appreciated it at the same time. Leva & Vita's father was very forthright with his own troubled past, his love and loyalty to the Bloomfield family, his role as father to both Leva and Vita, and how badly he wants for his sons not to follow in his footsteps. It is definitely a TRUTH in our Pacific Islander community and one that is an on-going controversial reality within our Pacific Islander youth community. I thought it was very BRAVE of Fua & Kuata Bloomfield to allow their story to be told, to be shared with the mass and I applaud them for their bravery. Being Polynesian and exposing issues like these out in the open is not an easy one.... 


Bottom line, I think Tony Vainuku did an honest job in telling the stories of these four young men as truthfully as he could, and did not manipulate their truths whatsoever. I hope that the message of the importance of FOOTBALL in the lives of the every day Pacific Islander family was not lost in the raw footage of the other issues faced by these young men. There were cringe worthy moments, the swearing, the interacial relationships, the opinions of ones father, the issues with the law, the gang life, it was RAW, it was REAL, and this is the quick glimps of the lives of our Pacific Islander Student Athletes from different walks of life. Like I said at the beginning, it takes a special kind of someone to NOT completely throw caution to the wind, and find balance between cultural expectations, traditions, and  maintain his authentic independence in telling his/her truth.



Tags:  tonga football movie reviews in football we trust Sundace Film Festival independent film


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