Independent Lens and PBS Present: In Football We Trust

Film Follows Four Young Polynesian Men Striving to Overcome Gang Violence and Economic Hardship Through the Promise of American Football
Audio: 
Tony Vainuku, Director and Erika Cohn, Producer and Co-Director, In Football We Trust

(San Francisco, CA, Thursday, January 21, 2016)In Football We Trust is an insightful and moving documentary that transports viewers inside the tightly-knit and complex Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the chief sources for the NFL’s influx of Pacific Islander players. Shot over a four-year period with unprecedented access, the film follows four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and economic hardship through the promise of American football.

Directed by first time feature filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, In Football We Trust premiers on Independent Lens Monday, January 25, 2016, 10:00-11:30 p.m. ET (check local listings) on PBS.

Despite overwhelming obstacles, Polynesians are twenty-eight times more likely than any other ethnic group to make it in the NFL. Some refer to this phenomenon as a “calling”, or gift from God; others credit genetics, socio-cultural influences, or the push and pull of global sports capitalism. Many Polynesian families view football as their ticket out of economic hardship and gang life, but In Football We Trust reveals those expectations to be unrealistic.

The four players featured in the documentary are:

Harvey Langi is the second eldest of nine children and starting running back for Utah’s best high school team. He has scholarship offers to play football for multiple top Division I schools, but family expectations combined with early media attention may ultimately lead to a crossroads.

Leva and Vita Bloomfield are brothers struggling to live up to the legacy of their father, a former Brigham Young University running back who also founded the first Polynesian gang in Utah. Despite efforts to disaffiliate from the gang, the original family ties make it nearly impossible for the brothers to stay away.

Fihi Kaufusi is a two-way lineman who lives in his ultra-religious aunt’s crowded two bedroom apartment with eight other children. Despite his apparent talent, a terrible knee injury makes it difficult for Division I coaches to seriously consider Fihi’s potential. As a result, he is faced with the decision of whether to give up the sport he loves in order to serve a religious mission.

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