Back Row (L to R): Megan Parker, Nathan Engel, Carlos Salinas, Bijon Banerjee, Brad Heusner, Larry Tieu, Romain DeCourtye, Boris Hope, Ian Jaray
Middle Row (L to R): Ariella Wagonfeld, Ian Cook, Tiana Jensen, Lauren Winkelman, Andres Ehrli, Marti Dumas, Joaquin Rodriguez
Front Row (L to R): John Payne, Tim Ryan, Anthony Simonetti
On Thursday, April 16th, the SMBA ’16 cohort was invited by Executive Director, Lee Ann Kim, of Pacific Arts Movement to attend the ceremonies. We were also invited to sit in for the premiere showing of ‘In Football We Trust,’an independent film directed and produced by Erika Cohn and Tony Vainuku, at the UltraStar Cinemas at the Hazard Center shopping plaza.
‘In Football We Trust’ is an exemplary documentary film, which was chosen as one of the films shown at the Sundance Film Festival earlier this year. This documentary focuses on the rise and prominence of the Pacific Islander community in football on all levels of competition from high school to the National Football League. One significant statistic that stood out from the film for me was — despite representing a small percentage of the population of the United States, Samoans and Tongans are 28 times more likely than any other minority group to play football in the NFL. The story centers around four young high school student-athletes coming from tight-knit Polynesian families based in Salt Lake City, Utah and their struggles to break out of the cyclical vices of gang violence and poverty to provide for their families through the sport of American football.
For some Polynesian student-athletes, it is a delicate balance in life when it comes to showing undying loyalty toward their family, but at the same time attempting to meet and exceed the ‘expectations of society’ to succeed through the sport of football. Football is an escape from these roots and only few are able to realize their dreams of playing in the NFL; however, some aspects of the game of football such as collegiate recruiting and community pressure has sidetracked the lives of numerous high school football student-athletes through ill-advised decisions while praising those rare few who have made it to play football at the collegiate level, and the even fewer who realized their dreams of making it and playing in the NFL.
The turnout at the UltraStar Cinemas was outstanding and the community support was evident – the two premiere showings that evening were sold out. Even a few NFL players (both active and retired) with San Diego roots were seen in the audience at the showing to support the film as well as the family & close friends of former San Diego Chargers great Junior Seau, one of the first prominent NFL player of Polynesian descendent. At the end of the film, the directors opened up the floor for Q&A from the audience. Afterwards, the directors formally shared their gratitude toward the Seau family by awarding them lovely flower leis for their support in the production and the showing of this film.
Overall, all of the SMBA ’16 cohort greatly enjoyed themselves on this fine evening and I personally would highly recommend this documentary film to anybody regardless of whether or not they are avid American football fans.
For more information on the ‘In Football We Trust’ documentary, please click on the following link: http://www.infootballwetrustmovie.com/