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In Football We Trust Premieres on Independent Lens 1/25

Posted on January 07, 2016

Watch on Independent Lens on PBS on Monday, January 25th. Airtimes vary depending on your time zone but check your local listings for date/time:


Facebook event: www.facebook.com/events/1642201059364804

Live tweeting during broadcast: Follow @footballwetrust

In Football We Trust transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit and complex Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, one of the chief sources of the modern influx of Pacific Islander football players to the NFL. Shot over a four-year period with intimate access, the film follows four young men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through the promise of American football.

Despite overwhelming obstacles, Polynesians are 28 times more likely than any other ethnic group to make it to the NFL. Some refer to this phenomenon as a calling or a gift from God; others credit genetics, socio-cultural influences, or the push and pull of global sports capitalism. Many Polynesian families have come to view football as their ticket out of economic hardship and gang life, only to discover bitter disappointment when their expectations fall short of reality.

Featuring interviews with current and former Polynesian NFL stars Troy Polamalu, Haloti Ngata, Star Lotulelei, and Vai Sikahema, In Football We Trust reveals how making it to the NFL is like winning the lottery: the odds are discouraging but the payoff can be irresistible.

The Filmmakers

Tony Vainuku (Director) comes from a culture of Polynesian traditions and a family of athletes. His first career aspirations began on the field as a promising football player in Salt Lake City. After high school, he spent time in the corporate world before earning a B.S. in business marketing from Westminster College in Utah. Vainuku founded Soulprofile Productions, a multimedia company specializing in the creation of web ads, promotional video content, and music production. In 2011, Vainuku founded and launched Soulpro, a lifestyle apparel brand.

Erika Cohn (Producer and Co-Director) is a native Utahan who grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival. Religion and culture are a recurring theme in Cohn’s films, and her passion for social change is the driving force. In 2008, Cohn traveled to Cambodia where she shot Giant Steps, a documentary about the re-institution of art after Khmer Rouge rule, which aired on PBS. In 2010, Cohn was associate producer for the FRONTLINE/American Experience co-production God in America, a six-part historical series exploring the intersection of religion and public life. Cohn received a Directors Guild of America award for When the Voices Fade, a narrative profile of the Lebanese-Israeli war of 2006, and was recently admitted into the CPB Producers Academy. She attended Chapman University in California, where she graduated with degrees in film production and Middle Eastern Studies. Cohn is an avid documentary photographer, shooting primarily the lives of women in conflict zones, and serves as a US Ambassadorial Film Scholar to Israel. 

Categories: Broadcast, Events