Sunday, February 1, 2015

Polynesian Football Doc Enjoys a Fast and Furious Sundance

Over the weekend, Tom Vainuku and Erika Cohn wrapped up a whirlwind bit of business in their hometown state of Utah. Their feature documentary In Football We Trust, which looks at the long reach of Polynesian football players in the NFL through the eyes of four young up-and-coming hopefuls in the Beehive State, premiered January 23rd at the Sundance Film Festival and encored January 27th and 31st.

There was also news of a major new supporter. “Saw this powerful film and knew I had to help produce it,” tweeted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to his eight-million-plus followers January 25th. “We're so thrilled to have you on board,” shared @footballwetrust with a smaller follower audience of a few hundred.

The documentary was acquired before the festival by Relativity Sports. All in all, a tremendously successful backyard film festival event for director Vainuku and producer Cohn. From a recent write-up in the Deseret News:

According to the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame, nearly 60 Polynesians played in the National Football League in 2014. CBS’s 60 Minutes reported there were 200 Polynesians playing Division I college football, and that was two years ago. Such numbers are a remarkable statistical anomaly considering the population of Tonga, Samoa and America Samoa — the primary source of such players even if they weren’t born there — totals only about 350,000. According to the documentary, Polynesians are 28 times more likely than any other ethnic group to play in the NFL.

The Park City debut of In Football We Trust also holds the distinction of one of the most closely aligned Sundance premieres outside of films involving Robert Redford himself. Vainuku went to Highland High and grew up just blocks from The Grand Theatre.

Another remarkable layer to the project is that Vainuku's uncle, Joe Katoa, was released from prison just a few months ago after his football dreams crashed and burned. Katoa was the spark for the documentary.

The players featured in the documentary are: Harvey Langi, the second eldest of nine children and starting running back for Utah’s top high school team; Leva and Vita Bloomfield, brothers whose father was both a Brigham Young University running back and tied to Utah's first Polynesian gang; and Fihi Kaufusi, a lineman who shares a two-bedroom apartment with nine other residents.

[In Football We Trust]

No comments:

Post a Comment