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Oscar Kightley, David Fane and Semu Filipo at the Auckland premiere.

PMN News/ Candice Ama


Hollywood meets Pacific: Inspiring American Samoan sports story reflects region's true 'heart’

Taika Waititi’s latest film Next Goal Wins premiered on Monday and hits theaters on 7 December.

Matt Manukuo
Matt Manukuo
22 November 2023, 11:23am
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Auckland's Newmarket cinemas were packed with Pacific celebrities at the New Zealand premier of Taika Waititi’s latest film Next Goal Wins.

The film tells the story of the inspiring American Samoan football team, once labelled the "worst football team in the world" after their embarrassing 31-0 loss against Australia.

Renowned actor Oscar Kightley stars in the film as Tevita, and says the movie is an important milestone for Pacific storytelling.

“It’s important we’re the ones doing the telling, not just in it as actors but actually involved from the top down.

“It’s important for the story's sovereignty and authenticity. I think if you’re making stories it’s in your interest to get it right, be thorough and [show] due diligence.”

Kightley says a documentary on the team inspired the film to go ahead.


“This was an amazing doco, and it would make an amazing film and I think it was ‘let’s make this film'.”

David Fane plays Ace in the film.

The movie is an important milestone for taking a Pacific story to Hollywood, as it also involves several Hollywood stars, with Oscar winning director Taika Waititi and award-winning actor Michael Fassbender.

David Fane who features in the film as Ace says people watching around the world will learn a lot about the "heart" that grounds Pacific people.

“It’s about being people. More important now than ever! We’re islanders, there is a way we go about things, that is a love of others always. We’re the best people in the world."

The film journey’s through the highs and lows that head coach Thomas Rongen, played by Fassbender, experienced with the American Samoan team.

Fane says while the film follows a football side, it’s the Pacific story that makes it special.

“Soccer is huge! But so is being kind, so is being respectful, so is being an Islander. The things that make us different is that it’s never about the me, it’s about the we.

“That’s one thing we all have in common.”

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