IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST is an insightful and moving documentary feature film exploring in rich detail the remarkable story behind the Polynesian Pipeline to the NFL.
A contemporary American story, the film transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit and complex Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah, one of the chief sources for the modern influx of Pacific Islander NFLers. With unprecedented access and shot over a fouryear time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through the promise of American football.
Directed by first time feature filmmakers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST takes us into the lives of these high school athletes and their families:
Harvey Langi – The second eldest of nine children and starting running back for Utah’s best high school team. He has scholarship offers to play football in nearly every top Division I school in the nation, but family expectations combined with early media attention ultimately lead to a crossroads.
Leva and Vita Bloomfield – These two brothers are struggling to live up to their father’s legacy, a former Brigham Young University running back who also founded the first Polynesian gang in Utah. Despite efforts to disaffiliate, the original family ties make it nearly impossible for the brothers to stay away from gang life.
Fihi Kaufusi – A two-way lineman who lives in his ultra-religious aunt’s crowded twobedroom apartment with eight other children. Despite Fihi’s apparent talent, a terrible knee injury makes it difficult for Division I coaches to seriously consider his 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.
Viewed as the “salvation” for their families, these young players reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting and the dream of continuing their community’s legacy of producing NFL stars.
IN FOOTBALL WE TRUST is directed by Tony Vainuku and co-directed by Erika Cohn. The film is also produced by Cohn and executive produced by Geralyn Dreyfous, Mark Lipson, and Gavin Dougan. It is edited by Erika Concha, William Haugse and Ken Schneider with music by Justin Melland, featuring additional music by D.V.S* is directed by Tony Vainuku and co-directed by Erika Cohn. The film is also produced by Cohn and executive produced by Geralyn Dreyfous, Mark Lipson, and Gavin Dougan. It is edited by Erika Concha, William Haugse and Ken Schneider with music by Justin Melland, featuring additional music by D.V.S*.
Director, TONY VAINUKU comes from a culture of third world traditions and a family of athletes. He grew up playing sports, but football was the focal point for his community and for Tony throughout much of his youth. For many who share his Polynesian heritage, the sport had become a way of life. After high school, he spent some time in the corporate world before enrolling at Westminster College in Utah to study business marketing for the purpose of learning how to build businesses around his passions of creative directing, writing and filmmaking. After graduating with a B.S. in Business Marketing, Tony founded a multimedia company called Soulprofile Productions, which specialized in creative directing, video web ads, music production and other promos.
In addition, Tony founded and launched the Soulpro brand in 2011: a lifestyle apparel brand built on the philosophy of Passion is Purpose®. In its three years of business, Soulpro has grown across the western United States and been actively involved in collaborating with and promoting hundreds of musicians, artists, athletes and entrepreneurs. Everyday, Tony lives his life by the simple philosophy of “get busy living, or get busy dying.”
Producer and Co-Director, ERIKA COHN grew up attending the Sundance Film Festival as a native Utahan, where she first began her career. Although her films differ in place and time, her fascination with religion and culture remain a reoccurring theme and her passion for social change the driving factor. In 2008, Erika traveled to Cambodia where she shot “Giant Steps,” a documentary about the reinstitution of art after the Khmer Rouge rule, which aired on PBS. In 2010, Erika associate produced the Frontline/ American Experience series, “God in America,” a six-part historical series on our nation’s relationship between religion and politics.
Erika has received numerous accolades for her work, including a Director’s Guild of America award for her film, “When the Voices Fade,” a narrative profile of the Lebanese-Israeli war of 2006, and recent admission into the CPB Producer’s Academy. Erika has been a featured panelist/ speaker at various film festivals and university conferences regarding independent film financing and mentors youth filmmakers across the globe. She attended Chapman University in CA, where she graduated with degrees in Film Production and Middle Eastern Studies. In addition, Erika is an avid documentary photographer, shooting primarily the lives of women in conflict zones, and serves as a US Ambassadorial Film Scholar to Israel/Palestine. She currently has two films in development through Idle Wild Films, Inc.
Executive Producer, GERALYN DREYFOUS has a wide, distinguished background in the arts and participates on numerous boards and initiatives. She is the founder of the Utah Film Center and co-founder of Impact Partners Film Fund with Dan Cogan. In 2013, Geralyn co-founded Gamechanger Films, a film fund dedicated to women directors. Her independent producing credits include the Academy Award winning “Born Into Brothels;” Emmy nominated “The Day My God Died;” Academy Award nominated “The Square,” Academy Award nominated “The Invisible War” and multiple film festival winners. Geralyn was honored with the IDA’s 2013 Amicus Award for her significant contribution to documentary filmmaking. Variety recognized Geralyn in their 2014 Women’s Impact Report highlighting her work in the entertainment industry.
Executive Producer / Post Production Supervisor, MARK LIPSON came to Los Angeles after attending NYU Film School to pursue photography and produce film and television. He developed and was associate producer of the original “Children of the Corn” feature. Then returning to NYC he produced “Almost You,” an indie comedy starring Griffin Dunne and Brooke Adams for Fox Classics. In the mid-90’s he supervised 3 innovative doc series for ITVS, including “The United States of Poetry.”
While in Texas shooting stills for David Byrne’s film “True Stories” he met Errol Morris. Mark produced three of Errol’s films most notably the award winning “The Thin Blue Line,” then “Fast Cheap and Out of Control” and most recently “Tabloid.” Current Mr. Lipson has been consulting as executive producer and post production supervisor on numerous Indie Features such as, “Standard Operating Procedure,” “Countdown to Zero,” “This Space Available,” “The Source Family” and this years Cannes, Telluride and Toronto International Film Festival darling, “Red Army.”
Executive Producer / Sound Supervisor, GAVIN DOUGAN is an Emmy Nominated Filmmaker who works in both the Documentary and Narrative Feature worlds of film. Gavin is an Executive Producer and the Sound Supervisor for the recent Oscar Nominated and Emmy winning Documentary – “The Square” – which examines the events of the Egyptian Revolution. Gavin received an Emmy Nomination in the Best Documentary category for this film.
He was also an Executive Producer for the award winning Documentary “Pandora’s Promise” – which questions the narrative about Nuclear Energy, and Co-Executive Producer of the award winning Documentary “Meet the Patels” – which humorously explores the world of arranged marriages within the Indian American community. Gavin was the Writer, Director, and Producer of the award winning narrative feature “Brass Tacks” – which tells the story about a group of young and talented Musicians confronting the realities of the Music Industry. He has also taught Film for Young Filmmakers Education.
Editor, ERICKA CONCHA is an up-and-coming American film and video editor from Northern California, who grew up dreaming of a career in the film and television industry. After receiving her undergraduate degree with Honors and two academic awards, Ericka was offered a scholarship to attend the Graduate Conservatory Program for film at Chapman University where she further refined her skills. She has enjoyed success with many of her short narrative works, which have screened at Academy Accredited festivals, including the Hollywood Film Festival, Dances With Films and First Glance, accomplishments which helped earn her a coveted spot in the ACE Internship Program.
More recently, Ericka has turned her attention toward longform documentary film, where she is staking out her place as a critical new voice. By bringing a fresh, energetic lens to her subject matter, Ericka Concha is quickly becoming known as an editor who is defining modern documentary storytelling.
Editor, WILLIAM HAUGSE, A.C.E. has been nominated in editing categories for both an Oscar (“Hoop Dreams”) and a national Emmy, received the American Cinema Editors top award among other honors. He has edited scores of doc features, and television films, including “Stevie” (Lionsgate) and “Sunset Story” (ITVS/PBS). His credits also include sixty or so shorter films as director and/or editor. He worked with Orson Welles and John Cassavetes editing shorter films, including making trailers for their films.
Recent work includes”Gore Vidal: United States of Amnesia (2013 Tribeca” “superb” Hollywood Reporter. Films about to be released, in addition to “In Football We Trust,” include the feature “Critic: Jonathan Gold and his City.” He has worked in New York, Geneva, Cairo, Bali, and Rajasthan and more, now resides in Los Angeles. For five years in the ‘90s he taught editing and filmmaking at the USC Cinema School.
Editor, KEN SCHNEIDER has edited over 35 featurelength documentaries, focusing on war and peace, human rights, artists’ lives, untold American histories, and contemporary social issues. Ken co-edited the Oscarnominated “Regret To Inform,” described by the NY Times as “unforgettable…exquisitely filmed, edited and scored.” His films have screened on PBS’ American Masters, POV, Independent Lens, Frontline, on HBO, and in television and film festivals worldwide.
Other projects include: “Have You Heard From Johannesburg” (Emmy winning series); “The Good War and Those Who Refused To Fight It”; “El Poeta”; “Orozco: Man of Fire”; “Ralph Ellison: An American Journey”; “Store Wars”; “School Colors”; “Bolinao 52”; “Ancestors in the Americas” and “Speaking in Tongues.” Ken’s editing can be viewed on kenschneidereditor.net. Ken lectures at NYU, Harvard, San Francisco City College, the SF Art Institute, and Chapman University. He lives in San Francisco with his wife and two teenage sons.
Composer, Justin Melland has over 50 feature and documentary film credits to his name, including Oscar® nominee “The Death of Kevin Carter,” “When the Storm Came” (Winner, Short Film, Sundance Film Festival 2004) “Under Our Skin” (Tribeca Film Festival 2008), “Life 2.0” (Sundance Film Festival 2010), “The Redemption of General Butt Naked” (Winner, Cinematography Sundance Film Festival 2011), and “The Hill Team” (Winner, Best Documentary Tribeca Film Festival 2013, Oscilloscope Labs). He has also written scores for television series such as the epic 7-hour television event, “Belief” (Oprah Winfrey and Part2 Pictures), National Geographic Explorer, A&E’s City Confidential, Frontline/WORLD, and the History Channel’s Human Weapon. Melland received his Master’s Degree in music composition at UCLA and UC Berkeley, and resides in Venice, California.
Additional Music by Derek VanScoten, who amidst a land of hypnotic beats, catchy hooks, and majestic melodies exists, goes by D.V.S*. His latest album “Comfort Zone,” arrives on Dec 9, 2014 via Emancipator’s label Loci Records. D.V.S* (aka Derek VanScoten) began producing in 2009, and has since remixed artists like Bassnectar, Sharam, and Break Science. His 2013 release “Hit the Clouds Running” was the apex of his career to date, marrying forward thinking electronic bass, drums and sound design, with classy guitar tones and catchy vocals. Past label releases include Amorphous, Soulection, Loci, 1320 records, Pretty Lights Music, Gravitas Recordings, Cantora Records, Yoshi Toshi, Daly City, Electronic Music Magazine, and Dub Lab. www.dvsmusic.com